Peer victimization experiences represent developmentally salient stressors among adolescents and are associated with the development of internalizing symptoms. However, the mechanisms linking peer victimization to adolescent psychopathology remain inadequately understood. This study examined emotion dysregulation as a mechanism linking peer stress to changes in internalizing symptoms among adolescents in a longitudinal design. Peer victimization was assessed with the Revised Peer Experiences Questionnaire (M. J. Prinstein, J. Boergers, & E. M. Vernberg, 2001) in a large (N = 1,065), racially diverse (86.6% non-White) sample of adolescents 11-14 years of age. Emotion dysregulation and symptoms of depression and anxiety were also assessed. Structural equation modeling was used to create a latent construct of emotion dysregulation from measures of discrete emotion processes and of peer victimization and internalizing symptoms. Peer victimization was associated with increased emotion dysregulation over a 4-month period. Increases in emotion dysregulation mediated the relationship between relational and reputational, but not overt, victimization and changes in internalizing symptoms over a 7-month period. Evidence for a reciprocal relationship between internalizing symptoms and relational victimization was found, but emotion dysregulation did not mediate this relationship. The implications for preventive interventions are discussed.
Preliminary evidence supports the role of emotion-related deficits in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), including heightened emotional intensity, poor understanding of emotion, negative cognitive reactivity to emotions, and maladaptive emotion management. However, questions remain concerning the specificity of these emotion-related deficits compared to highly comorbid conditions such as social anxiety disorder (SAD). In the current study, 113 undergraduate students were administered measures of GAD, SAD, and emotion-related factors in order to clarify relationships among these variables. In univariate analyses, presence of SAD did not significantly impact the association between GAD and the emotion-related measures. Further, a discriminant function analysis revealed that emotional intensity and impaired regulation strategies provided the greatest discrimination between groups and best predicted a diagnosis of GAD (regardless of SAD comorbidity). Although their discriminatory ability was weaker, poor emotional understanding best predicted a diagnosis of SAD (regardless of GAD comorbidity), and non-acceptance of emotions best predicted comorbid GAD and SAD.
PURPOSE: Stressful life events represent potent risk factors for the development of internalizing symptoms among adolescents. However the mechanisms linking stress to adolescent psychopathology remain inadequately understood. This study examined the role of emotion dysregulation as a mechanism linking stress to changes in internalizing symptoms among adolescents. METHODS: This study used a short-term longitudinal design. Stressful life events were assessed in a large diverse sample of adolescents (N = 1065), and emotion dysregulation and symptomatology outcomes were assessed at two subsequent time points. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the role of emotion dysregulation as a mediator of the association between stress and subsequent changes in internalizing symptoms. RESULTS: Emotion dysregulation mediated the relationship between stressful life events and changes in internalizing symptoms over time. Sobel's test indicated a significant indirect effect of stressful life events on subsequent symptoms of depression (z = 5.05, p \textless .001) and anxiety (z = 4.95, p \textless .001) through emotion dysregulation. CONCLUSIONS: Stressful life events appear to disrupt the adaptive processing of emotion among adolescents. Emotion dysregulation represents an intrapersonal mechanism linking stress to poor mental health outcomes. The implications for preventive interventions are discussed.
OBJECTIVE: To estimate the prevalence of serious emotional disturbance (SED) among children and adolescents exposed to Hurricane Katrina along with the associations of SED with hurricane-related stressors, sociodemographics, and family factors 18 to 27 months after the hurricane. METHOD: A probability sample of prehurricane residents of areas affected by Hurricane Katrina was administered a telephone survey. Respondents provided information on up to two of their children (n = 797) aged 4 to 17 years. The survey assessed hurricane-related stressors and lifetime history of psychopathology in respondents, screened for 12-month SED in respondents' children using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and determined whether children's emotional and behavioral problems were attributable to Hurricane Katrina. RESULTS: The estimated prevalence of SED was 14.9%, and 9.3% of the youths were estimated to have SED that is directly attributable to Hurricane Katrina. Stress exposure was associated strongly with SED, and 20.3% of the youths with high stress exposure had hurricane-attributable SED. Death of a loved one had the strongest association with SED among prehurricane residents of New Orleans, whereas exposure to physical adversity had the strongest association in the remainder of the sample. Among children with stress exposure, parental psychopathology and poverty were associated with SED. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of SED among youths exposed to Hurricane Katrina remains high 18 to 27 months after the storm, suggesting a substantial need for mental health treatment resources in the hurricane-affected areas. The youths who were exposed to hurricane-related stressors, have a family history of psychopathology, and have lower family incomes are at greatest risk for long-term psychiatric impairment.
Anxiety sensitivity represents a robust risk factor for the development of anxiety symptoms among both adolescents and adults. However, the development of anxiety sensitivity among adolescents remains inadequately understood. In this study, the authors examined the role of stressful life events as a risk factor for the development of elevated anxiety sensitivity. Anxiety sensitivity was then examined in a longitudinal design as a mechanism linking stressful life events to changes in anxiety symptoms. Stressful life events, anxiety sensitivity, and internalizing symptoms were assessed in a diverse community sample of adolescents (N = 1,065) at 3 time points spanning 7 months. The results indicated that stressful life events were longitudinally associated with increases in anxiety sensitivity and that certain types of stressful life events, specifically events related to health and events related to family discord, were differentially predictive of increases in anxiety sensitivity. Moreover, anxiety sensitivity mediated the longitudinal relation between stressful life events and anxiety symptoms. Evidence was also found for the predictive specificity of anxiety sensitivity to symptoms of anxiety but not depression.