Does talking help relieve stress?
Yes, talking does help to relieve stress. While it is one of a handful of measures typically prescribed to reduce levels of stress—others include meditation, immersion in pleasurable activities, and exercise—talking with others is a tried-and-true way to reduce the stresses that most people experience during various stages of life.
Stress is dangerous, especially prolonged stress. While it is a natural phenomenon experienced by almost all people at one point or another, prolonged periods of stress, such as a difficult period at one's job or a prolonged illness, can have serious physiological ramifications. Serious levels of stress (and anxiety) can weaken human immune systems and exacerbate preexisting medical conditions. It can also result in the deterioration of personal and professional relationships if left unmanaged. There is, after all, a reason that there are an estimated 34 psychologists for every 100,000 people in the United States, not including other forms of mental health treatment. (Data is from the American Psychological Association, which extrapolated from data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.)
It is proven that engaging in a dialogue, especially with an individual trained to process patient information and to help construct approaches to resolve underlying difficulties and to manage stress, helps relieve the psychological burdens under which many individuals live. By divulging the problems, no matter how personal, to which an individual attributes his or her stress, the pressures from living with such information is reduced. Secrecy in-and-of-itself can be stressful. Unburdening oneself of personal information can greatly reduce stress.
Some careers have high levels of stress built into them; it is their nature. Policing high crime neighborhoods, fighting fires, operating aircraft, engaging in armed combat, and being responsible for the welfare or financial well-being of hundreds of people all involve high levels of stress. It literally comes with the job. In all of these examples, the availability of counseling is of paramount importance. Talking through one's problems can help relieve the psychological pressure that causes stress, whether the dialogue is with a professional, licensed therapist or with a close friend or family member. Holding painful information inside oneself is never healthy, and even the other forms of stress relief mentioned above do not address this kind of stress as well as talking with a trusted individual.