Article

Cognitive emotion regulation fails the stress test.

Psychology Department and Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, NY 10003.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 08/2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1305706110
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Cognitive emotion regulation has been widely shown in the laboratory to be an effective way to alter the nature of emotional responses. Despite its success in experimental contexts, however, we often fail to use these strategies in everyday life where stress is pervasive. The successful execution of cognitive regulation relies on intact executive functioning and engagement of the prefrontal cortex, both of which are rapidly impaired by the deleterious effects of stress. Because it is specifically under stressful conditions that we may benefit most from such deliberate forms of emotion regulation, we tested the efficacy of cognitive regulation after stress exposure. Participants first underwent fear-conditioning, where they learned that one stimulus (CS+) predicted an aversive outcome but another predicted a neutral outcome (CS-). Cognitive regulation training directly followed where participants were taught to regulate fear responses to the aversive stimulus. The next day, participants underwent an acute stress induction or a control task before repeating the fear-conditioning task using these newly acquired regulation skills. Skin conductance served as an index of fear arousal, and salivary α-amylase and cortisol concentrations were assayed as neuroendocrine markers of stress response. Although groups showed no differences in fear arousal during initial fear learning, nonstressed participants demonstrated robust fear reduction following regulation training, whereas stressed participants showed no such reduction. Our results suggest that stress markedly impairs the cognitive regulation of emotion and highlights critical limitations of this technique to control affective responses under stress.

Full-text

Available from: Ashley A Shurick, Apr 19, 2015
0 Followers
 · 
186 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Emotion regulation is a major prerequisite for adaptive behavior. The capacity to regulate emotions is particularly important during and after the encounter of a stressor. However, the impact of acute stress and its associated neuroendocrine alterations on emotion regulation have received little attention so far. This study aimed to explore how stress-induced cortisol increases affect three different emotion regulation strategies. Seventy two healthy men and women were either exposed to a stressor or a control condition. Subsequently participants viewed positive and negative images and were asked to up- or down-regulate their emotional responses or simultaneously required to solve an arithmetic task (distraction). The factors stress, sex, and strategy were operationalized as between group factors (n = 6 per cell). Stress caused an increase in blood pressure and higher subjective stress ratings. An increase in cortisol was observed in male participants only. In contrast to controls, stressed participants were less effective in distracting themselves from the emotional pictures. The results further suggest that in women stress enhances the ability to decrease negative emotions. These findings characterize the impact of stress and sex on emotion regulation and provide initial evidence that these factors may interact.
    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 11/2014; 8(379). DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00397 · 4.16 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Objective: This study compared the impact of cognitive-behavioral therapy for pain (CBT-P), mindful awareness and acceptance treatment (M), and arthritis education (E) on day-to-day pain- and stress-related changes in cognitions, symptoms, and affect among adults with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Method: One hundred forty-three RA patients were randomized to 1 of the 3 treatment conditions. CBT-P targeted pain-coping skills; M targeted awareness and acceptance of current experience to enhance coping with a range of aversive experiences; E provided information regarding RA pain and its management. At pre- and posttreatment, participants completed 30 consecutive evening diaries assessing that day's pain, fatigue, pain-related catastrophizing and perceived control, morning disability, and serene and anxious affects. Results: Multilevel models compared groups in the magnitude of within-person change in daily pain and stress reactivity from pre- to posttreatment. M yielded greater reductions than did CBT-P and E in daily pain-related catastrophizing, morning disability, and fatigue and greater reductions in daily stress-related anxious affect. CBT-P yielded less pronounced declines in daily pain-related perceived control than did M and E. Conclusions: For individuals with RA, M produces the broadest improvements in daily pain and stress reactivity relative to CBT-P and E. These findings also highlight the utility of a diary-based approach to evaluating the treatment-related changes in responses to daily life. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
    Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 11/2014; 83(1). DOI:10.1037/a0038200 · 4.85 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Repeated exposure to stressful events across the lifespan, referred to as cumulative adversity, is a potent risk factor for depression. Research indicates that cumulative adversity detrimentally affects emotion regulation processes, which may represent a pathway linking cumulative adversity to vulnerability to depression. However, empirical evidence that emotion dysregulation mediates the relationship between cumulative adversity and depression is limited, particularly in adult populations. We examined the direct and indirect effects of cumulative adversity on depressive symptomatology in a large community sample of adults (n = 745) who were further characterized by risk status: never-depressed (n = 638) and "at-risk" remitted mood-disordered (n = 107). All participants completed the Cumulative Adversity Inventory (CAI), the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Bootstrapped confidence intervals were computed to estimate the indirect effect of emotion dysregulation on the relationship between cumulative adversity and depressive symptomatology and to test whether this indirect effect was moderated by risk status. Emotion dysregulation partially and significantly mediated the relationship between cumulative adversity and depressive symptomatology independent of risk status. Overall, cumulative adversity and emotion dysregulation accounted for 50% of the variance in depressive symptomatology. These findings support the hypothesis that disruption of adaptive emotion regulation processes associated with repeated exposure to stressful life events represents an intrapersonal mechanism linking the experience of adverse events to depression. Our results support the utility of interventions that simultaneously emphasize stress reduction and emotion regulation to treat and prevent depressive vulnerability and pathology. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Psychiatric Research 12/2014; 61. DOI:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2014.11.012 · 4.09 Impact Factor