Patterns of emotion regulation and psychopathology

Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
Anxiety, stress, and coping (Impact Factor: 1.55). 05/2009; 22(5):571-86. DOI: 10.1080/10615800802179860
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Emotion regulatory strategies such as higher expressive suppression and lower cognitive reappraisal may be associated with increased psychopathology (Gross & John, 2003). Yet, it is unclear whether these strategies represent distinct cognitive styles associated with psychopathology, such that there are individuals who are predominantly "suppressors" or "reappraisers." Using cluster analysis, we examined whether women with and without exposure to potentially traumatic events evidence distinct patterns of emotion regulation frequency, capacity, suppression, and cognitive reappraisal. Four patterns emerged: high regulators; high reappraisers/low suppressors; moderate reappraisers/low suppressors; and low regulators. Individuals who reported infrequently and ineffectively regulating their emotions (low regulators) also reported higher depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In contrast, individuals who reported frequently and effectively using reappraisal and low levels of suppression (high reappraisers/low suppressors) reported the lowest levels of these symptoms, suggesting that this specific combination of emotion regulation may be most adaptive. Our findings highlight that the capacity to regulate emotions and the ability to flexibly apply different strategies based on the context and timing may be associated with reduced psychopathology and more adaptive functioning.

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    • "Alternatively, it is possible that suppression is not uniformly related to greater symptom severity among all individuals and that we may have omitted important variables moderating the relation between suppression and symptom severity; in fact, prior studies have found that suppression frequency is not uniformly related to negative outcomes. Eftekhari et al. (2009), who classified participants on the basis of their frequency of both suppression and reappraisal use and examined associations with symptom levels, found that people classified as frequent users of both strategies represented the most common pattern of emotion regulation. Although people high in reappraisal and low in suppression reported the lowest symptom levels among the categories examined, people high in use of both strategies also reported effective ER and relatively low symptom levels. "
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    ABSTRACT: Many psychological disorders are characterized by difficulties in emotion regulation. It is unclear, however, whether different disorders are associated with the use of specific emotion regulation strategies, and whether these difficulties are stable characteristics that are evident even after recovery. It is also unclear whether the use of specific strategies is problematic across all disorders or whether disorders differ in how strongly strategy use is associated with symptom severity. This study investigated (1) the specificity of use of emotion regulation strategies in individuals diagnosed with current major depressive disorder (MDD), with social anxiety disorder (SAD), and in never-disordered controls (CTL); and (2) the stability of strategy use in formerly depressed participants (i.e., remitted; RMD). Path analysis was conducted to examine the relation between strategy use and symptom severity across diagnostic groups. Compared to the CTL group, participants in both clinical groups endorsed more frequent use of rumination and expressive suppression, and less frequent use of reappraisal. Specific to SAD were even higher levels of expressive suppression relative to MDD, as well as a stronger relation between rumination and anxiety levels. In contrast, specific to MDD were even higher levels of rumination and lower levels of reappraisal. Interestingly, elevated rumination, but not decreased reappraisal, was found to be a stable feature characterizing remitted depressed individuals. These results may provide insight into ways in which emotion regulation strategy use maintains psychological disorders.
    Cognitive Therapy and Research 10/2013; 37(5). DOI:10.1007/s10608-013-9537-0 · 1.70 Impact Factor
    • "The primary treatment modality was cognitive-behavioral group therapy, and included group Cognitive Processing Therapy (Resick, Monson, & Chard, 2007). We posited that this treatment program would be a useful context in which to investigate change in the use of emotion regulation strategies because , like many evidence-based treatments for PTSD, cognitive behavioral therapies for PTSD focus on reducing the use of avoidant emotion regulation strategies and increasing the use of alternative strategies (Hamblen, Schnurr, Rosenberg, & Eftekhari, 2009). Specifically , cognitive-behavioral therapies include cognitive "
    Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 03/2013; 32:296-314. DOI:10.1521/jscp.2013.32.3.296 · 1.36 Impact Factor
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    • "Furthermore, individuals reporting PTSS suggestive of a diagnosis of PTSD endorsed subjective deficits in overall emotion regulation, as well as specific components of impulse control difficulties, lack of access to effective emotion regulation strategies, and lack of emotional clarity when controlling for the effects of negative affect (Tull et al., 2007). Severity of PTSS has also been linked cross-sectionally to reduced subjective capacity and self-reported frequency of emotion regulation strategies, suggesting that deficits in emotion regulation flexibility play a role in PTSS (Eftekhari et al., 2009). Psychophysiological research also has demonstrated an association between PTSD and deficits in emotional processing and positive emotional expression (Litz et al., 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: A strong positive association between emotion regulation difficulties (ERD) and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) has been consistently evidenced in cross-sectional research. However, a lack of prospective research has limited hypotheses regarding the temporal relationship between trauma exposure, ERD, and PTSS. The present prospective study investigated the role of pre-trauma difficulties with emotion regulation in the development of PTSS following exposure to a potentially traumatic event. Between Time 1 (T1) and Time 2 (T2), a mass shooting occurred at the participants’ (n = 691) university campus. ERD and PTSS were assessed prior to the shooting (T1), in the acute aftermath of the shooting (T2), and approximately eight months later (T3). Using a cross-lagged panel design, ERD was found to prospectively predict PTSS from T1 to T2 and T2 to T3. Additionally, PTSS prospectively predicted ERD from T1 to T2. However, T2 PTSS failed to predict T3 PTSS. Results indicate that ERD and PTSS are reciprocally influential from pre- to post-shooting. Further, results suggest that emotion dysregulation in the aftermath of a potentially traumatic event influences one's ability to recover from PTSS over time, even after accounting for the effects of existing symptomatology. To examine the specificity of temporal relations between ERD and PTSS a second cross-lagged panel design, in which a general distress construct was substituted for PTSS, was conducted. Results of this analysis, as well as conceptual and clinical implications, will be discussed.
    Journal of anxiety disorders 03/2013; 27(2):188-196. DOI:10.1016/j.janxdis.2013.01.003 · 2.68 Impact Factor
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