Emotion dysregulation and adolescent psychopathology: a prospective study

Citation:

McLaughlin, K. A., Hatzenbuehler, M. L., Mennin, D. S., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2011). Emotion dysregulation and adolescent psychopathology: a prospective study. Behaviour Research and Therapy , 49 (9), 544โ€“554.
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Date Published:

sep

Abstract:

BACKGROUND: Emotion regulation deficits have been consistently linked to psychopathology in cross-sectional studies. However, the direction of the relationship between emotion regulation and psychopathology is unclear. This study examined the longitudinal and reciprocal relationships between emotion regulation deficits and psychopathology in adolescents. METHODS: Emotion dysregulation and symptomatology (depression, anxiety, aggressive behavior, and eating pathology) were assessed in a large, diverse sample of adolescents (N=1065) at two time points separated by seven months. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the longitudinal and reciprocal relationships between emotion dysregulation and symptoms of psychopathology. RESULTS: The three distinct emotion processes examined here (emotional understanding, dysregulated expression of sadness and anger, and ruminative responses to distress) formed a unitary latent emotion dysregulation factor. Emotion dysregulation predicted increases in anxiety symptoms, aggressive behavior, and eating pathology after controlling for baseline symptoms but did not predict depressive symptoms. In contrast, none of the four types of psychopathology predicted increases in emotion dysregulation after controlling for baseline emotion dysregulation. CONCLUSIONS: Emotion dysregulation appears to be an important transdiagnostic factor that increases risk for a wide range of psychopathology outcomes in adolescence. These results suggest targets for preventive interventions during this developmental period of risk.

Last updated on 09/13/2018