Seeing the Silver Lining: Cognitive Reappraisal Ability Moderates the Relationship Between Stress and Depressive Symptoms

Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208, USA.
Emotion (Impact Factor: 3.88). 11/2010; 10(6):783-95. DOI: 10.1037/a0020262
Source: PubMed


Individuals differ in their adjustment to stressful life events, with some exhibiting impaired functioning, including depression, while others exhibit impressive resilience. The present study examined the hypothesis that the ability to deploy a particularly adaptive type of emotion regulation-cognitive reappraisal-may be a protective factor. It expands upon existing research in three ways. First, participants' ability to use reappraisal (cognitive reappraisal ability: CRA) was measured by using a behavioral challenge that assessed changes in experiential and physiological domains, rather than questionnaires. Second, all participants had been exposed to one or more recent stressful life events, a context in which emotion regulation may be particularly important. Third, a community sample of 78 women aged 20 to 60 was recruited, as opposed to undergraduates. Results indicate that, at low levels of stress, participants' CRA was not associated with depressive symptoms. However, at high levels of stress, women with high CRA exhibited less depressive symptoms than those with low CRA, suggesting that CRA may be an important moderator of the link between stress and depressive symptoms.

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    • "Studies have examined the beneficial effects of cognitive reappraisal on self-reported symptoms (e.g., Garnefski and Kraaij 2006), yet have not examined these tendencies in combination with measures of emotional reactivity. Cognitive reappraisal may be particularly important during times of stress, yet little research examines the effects of cognitive reappraisal in paradigms that include a stressor (Hofmann et al. 2009; Troy et al. 2010) to examine whether the tendency to reappraise modulates the effects of emotionality on symptom presentation. Indeed, in their call to advance the field of affective science , Tracy et al. (2014) suggest that research should employ multiple measures of emotional reactivity, focus on the time course of emotional response including rise and return to baseline, assess multiple types of emotion regulation , distinguish between reactivity and regulation, and elucidate disorder-specific patterns of emotional processes. "

    Cognitive Therapy and Research 10/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10608-015-9722-4 · 1.70 Impact Factor
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    • "Research has shown that there are differences between healthy and mentally ill populations in non-musical cognitive affect regulation strategies for dealing with negative stimuli. Cognitive reappraisal, a process of reassessing a stimulus as being less negative than originally perceived, has been associated with decreased risk of depression (Troy et al., 2010). Effective cognitive reappraisal is associated with increased activation of prefrontal and striatal areas in females, but with decreased amygdala response in males, suggesting important gender differences in affect regulation in the brain (McRae et al., 2008). "
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    • "The effectiveness of cognitive reappraisal for reducing negative emotion has been demonstrated across several indicators of negative emotion: self-reported negative emotion (Gross & John, 2003; Ochsner et al., 2002; Troy et al., 2010), central nervous system responses (e.g., decreased amygdala activation; Ochsner et al., 2002), and peripheral nervous system responses (e.g., decreased skin conductance level; McRae, Ciesielski, et al., 2012). Cognitive reappraisal has also been found to predict decreased depressive symptoms, particularly in stressful environments (Troy et al., 2010). Thus, for people whose genes and environment put them at risk (i.e., stressed individuals who carry a short allele in the 5-HTTLPR genotype), using cognitive reappraisal may be a useful strategy to offset this risk. "
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