Exposure to trauma

The long-term effects of suppressing emotional reactions

Colin A. Wastell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Citations (Scopus)


A cross-sectional study of 437 ambulance officers in a large state of Australia examined the long-term effects of suppressing emotion reactions to exposure to trauma. Results indicate that the use of emotion-suppressing defenses (e.g., withdrawal or acting out) have a highly significant positive relationship with physical and psychological stress symptoms. Alexithymia scores were also positively associated with stress symptoms. In addition, there was a positive association between years of ambulance service and stress symptoms. Implications of the findings are discussed for recovery from exposure to trauma of emergency services personnel and more generally to the experience of survivors of trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-845
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2002

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