Researchers led by Dr Allison Troy at Franklin and Marshall College said that while controlling our emotions, through a process known as cognitive reappraisal, in situations that are out of control may lead to a healthy mind, following the same process in situations where we have the power to influence could be bad for the mind as it makes us less inclined to change things, thereby increasing the chances that we may suffer from depression.
The researchers conducted their study on a group of volunteers who had been through a stressful situation recently in their lives. The volunteers were asked to complete an online survey in order to measure their stress and depression levels and were later asked to watch a series of sad film clips.
On measuring the depression levels after watching the clips, the researchers found that those who had no power to influence the source of their stress in life had lower depression levels compared to those who could have controlled their source of stress.
"When stressors are controllable, it seems that cognitive reappraisal ability isn't just less beneficial, it may be harmful. It may be, for instance, that more active strategies like problem-solving and seeking social support could be particularly beneficial in more controllable contexts", Dr Troy said.