I AM sure most will agree the pandemic has given us a fair amount to shout about, but is expressing out frustration through screaming a useful tool, or might it do more harm than good?

Scream therapy was first popularised around the 1970s by American psychotherapist Arthur Janov. He argued that most upset and distress were due to repressed feelings, from as far back as childhood, made worse in those who have a tendency to adopt the “stiff upper lip” approach. According to Janov, yelling out not only gave a voice, if you pardon the pun, to these, but also allowed them to be released, so that the individual could feel calmer, and almost reset themselves after the event.

Janov’s theory gained popularity not least because of celebrity clients, the most famous being John Lennon. However, one the major drawbacks of scream therapy was that it argued against the benefit of most other treatments with a proven track record, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

When we scream, we evoke the flight or fight response. This results in increased amounts of the brain chemicals dopamine and noradrenaline. There may be some benefit to this in the short term, providing temporary release, hopefully in a setting where no one else will become distressed.

However, repeated screaming is likely to damage your voice box, with the persistent rises in these hormones increasing pulse and blood pressure. In short, it has the potential to worsen both physical and mental health.

Yet despite this, and indeed in the absence of strong evidence of its benefit, it has gained popularity. Groups of mothers have congregated in carparks to indulge in scream therapy and we have seen the advent of axe rooms and “rage rooms”.

Axe rooms are largely self-explanatory, (you throw an axe at a wall in a controlled environment in order to vent your spleen). Rage rooms are areas dressed up as traditional settings, for example a kitchen or bedroom, where you can pay to smash up the room and its contents.

Anger itself is not a harmful emotion. It comes out of a sense of injustice, and can spur us on to make changes for the better. Yet rage is when that anger is channelled in an uncontrolled manner, with the potential to cause harm not only to the aggressor but also those around, including innocent bystanders.

Rage rooms may seem exciting, possibly due to the taboo of destroying a room, unless you are a rock star. But on a more serious note, they may actually be conditioning users into the belief that physical violence is the correct way of expressing and relieving one’s temper. This may be less helpful to someone suffering with anger issues.

Anger can be a manifestation of low mood or depression. More traditional theories argue that for those suffering with anger issues, it is important to understand why you feel this way. This may often need the help of trained therapist.

As well as establishing the cause of your anger, it is vital to recognise your triggers, be that someone talking over you, or any other perceived injustice, which can often be fairly minor.

Lastly this needs to be put into perspective, so that your response, if any, is seen as proportionate, and you do not fly off the handle. It may not be as simple as turning the other cheek, but descending into a blind rage will likely have significant consequences and undoubtedly worsen your health.

This doesn’t mean that scream therapy may not have its place. Certainly, its advocates are strong in their feelings about its benefits. It just may not be for all.

Sighing, defined a breath twice as loud as normal, may be a much gentler way of achieving the same.

Bottling up emotions is obviously not healthy and sometimes after a good scream or crying, and the release of tension, you may feel temporary relief.

Positive coping strategies with definite gains, and hopefully much less potential for harm, include any exercise that you enjoy, meditation and indulging in hobbies.

Social isolation is a significant risk factor for poor mental health, so trying to keep up with friends and family should be a priority.

Most of all, it you are struggling, please do not ignore the signs.

Your routine GP is adept at recognising and treating mood disorders, and there is always someone on the end of a telephone, day or night, if you are in crisis.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054