Health Digest Survey: Who Do People Seek Out When They Need To Talk To Someone?

Confiding in those we trust not only enhances our sense of connectedness, but there are also real mental and physiological health benefits to doing so. For example, talking to someone about how we're feeling can help reduce the body's stress response. In a 2007 study published in Psychological Science, researchers found that verbalizing our emotions had a direct effect on brain activity — a process known as affect labeling. Using MRI technology, researchers observed a decrease in activity in various areas of the brain, including the amygdala — the region responsible for our fear response (via Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America). Researchers concluded that articulating how we're feeling to others may help reduce emotional reactivity.

Talking to someone when we're in need can also serve more practical purposes. According to experts at Better Health Channel, talking through our problems with another person can help us gain clarity around a particular situation, release stifled emotions, feel less alone, identify new solutions to a problem, or see circumstances from a different point of view. Many of us may feel more comfortable talking to certain people than others. For this reason, we asked 610 readers of Health Digest who they prefer to talk to most when they're in need of support.

Most people reported reaching out to a partner for emotional support

Eight respondents selected reaching out to an anonymous app or hotline for emotional support — accounting for 1.31% of total answers. Such resources include the 988 Suicide & Crisis Hotline or the Crisis Text Line. With 16 votes was support groups, making up 2.62% of answers. With significantly more votes was reaching out to a therapist or other mental health professional. This answer option received 60 votes, making up just shy of 10% of total responses. While 114 people selected that they prefer talking to a family member when in need, the top answer came down between a friend or partner. Accounting for 36.56% of total answers was talking to a partner, with 223 votes. In second place, talking to a friend raked in 189 votes.

No matter who you decide to reach out to, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) encourages those seeking support to do so only when they feel ready, particularly if they're looking to discuss mental health. Sharing what we're going through can be a vulnerable experience, which is why your personal comfort level with who you're talking to is of the utmost importance.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.