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


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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    • "The ability to use top–down cognitive control mechanisms, such as reappraisal, to regulate emotional responses as circumstances change is critical for mental and physical health [Eftekhari et al., 2009; Gross and John, 2003a; Gross and Mu~ noz, 1995]. Reappraisal refers to the cognitive reevaluation of a potentially emotionally arousing event, aimed at altering its emotional impact [Gross and Thompson, 2007]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The use of top-down cognitive control mechanisms to regulate emotional responses as circumstances change is critical for mental and physical health. Several theoretical models of emotion regulation have been postulated; it remains unclear, however, in which brain regions emotion regulation goals (e.g., the downregulation of fear) are represented. Here, we examined the neural mechanisms of regulating emotion using fMRI and identified brain regions representing reappraisal goals. Using a multimethodological analysis approach, combining standard activation-based and pattern-information analyses, we identified a distributed network of lateral frontal, temporal, and parietal regions implicated in reappraisal and within it, a core system that represents reappraisal goals in an abstract, stimulus-independent fashion. Within this core system, the neural pattern-separability in a subset of regions including the left inferior frontal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, and inferior parietal lobe was related to the success in emotion regulation. Those brain regions might link the prefrontal control regions with the subcortical affective regions. Given the strong association of this subsystem with inner speech functions and semantic memory, we conclude that those cognitive mechanisms may be used for orchestrating emotion regulation. Hum Brain Mapp, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Human Brain Mapping
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    • "This finding is suggestive of alternations in emotion regulation associated with PTSD symptoms and is consistent with previous research linking PTSD with difficulty regulating negative emotions (e.g. Bonn-Miller et al., 2011; Cloitre et al., 2005; Eftekhari et al., 2009; Ehring & Quack, 2010; Kashdan et al., 2006; Moore et al., 2008; Price et al., 2006; Tull et al., 2007). However, participants' self-reported emotion when asked to enhance their negative emotions was not associated with PTSD symptoms. "
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    ABSTRACT: Retrospective studies suggest a link between PTSD and difficulty regulating negative emotions. This study investigated the relationship between PTSD symptoms and the ability to regulate negative emotions in real-time using a computerised task to assess emotion regulation. Trauma-exposed ambulance workers (N = 45) completed self-report measures of trauma exposure, PTSD symptoms and depression. Participants then completed a computer task requiring them to enhance, decrease or maintain their negative emotions in response to unpleasant images. Skin conductance responses (SCR) were recorded and participants also made ratings of emotion intensity. Immediately after the computer task, participants were asked to describe the strategies they had used to regulate their negative emotions during the task and recorded spontaneous intrusions for the unpleasant images they had seen throughout the following week. PTSD symptoms were associated with difficulty regulating (specifically, enhancing) negative emotions, greater use of response modulation (i.e., suppression) and less use of cognitive change (i.e., reappraisal) strategies to down-regulate their negative emotions during the task. More intrusions developed in participants who had greater reductions in physiological arousal whilst decreasing their negative emotions. PTSD was measured by self-report rather than by a clinician administered interview. The results suggest a relationship between emotion regulation ability and PTSD symptoms rather than emotion regulation and PTSD. Difficulty regulating negative emotions may be a feature of trauma-exposed individuals with PTSD symptoms, which may be linked to the types of strategies they employ to regulate negative emotions.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
    • "Or put another way, does the way in which you regulate and how successful you are at regulating differ as a function of the intensity of the response you experience? How we manage emotional pushes and pulls, both small and large, is a strong predictor of mental health and wellbeing and knowing which strategies to use in different situations may be critical for creating effective clinical treatments (Gross and Munoz, 1995; Gross and John, 2003; Taylor and Liberzon, 2007; Eftekhari et al., 2009; Kim and Cicchetti, 2009). Cognitive regulatory strategies such as reappraisal, where one reinterprets the meaning of a stimulus so as to alter its emotional impact, have been shown to be among the most adaptive means for regulating emotion. "
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    ABSTRACT: One of the most effective strategies for regulating emotional responses is cognitive reappraisal. While prior work has made great strides in characterizing reappraisal’s neural mechanisms and behavioral outcomes, the key issue of how regulation varies as a function of emotional intensity remains unaddressed. We compared the behavioral and neural correlates of reappraisal of high- and low-intensity emotional responses using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We found that successful reappraisal of both high- and low-intensity emotions depends upon recruitment of dorsomedial (dmPFC) as well as left dorsolateral (dlPFC) and ventrolateral (vlPFC) prefrontal cortex. However, reappraisal of high-intensity emotions more strongly activated left dlPFC, and in addition, activated right lateral and dorsomedial PFC regions not recruited by low-intensity reappraisal. No brain regions were more strongly recruited during reappraisal of low when compared with high-intensity emotions. Taken together, these results suggest that reappraisal of high-intensity emotion requires greater cognitive resources as evidenced by quantitative and qualitative differences in prefrontal recruitment. These data have implications for understanding how and when specific PFC systems are needed to regulate different types of emotional responses.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2014 · Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
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