Differences in Emotion Regulation Difficulties Across Types of Eating Disorders During Adolescence
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Emotion regulation appears to play a key role in eating disorders. However, prior attempts to associate specific emotion regulation abilities with specific types of eating disorders resulted in inconsistent findings. Moreover, far less is known about emotion regulation in eating disorders during adolescence, a critical period of emotional development. The current study addresses this gap, comparing emotion regulation characteristics between adolescents with restrictive types of eating disorders and those with binge eating or purging types of eating disorders. Ninety-eight adolescents with eating disorders (49 with restrictive and 49 with binge eating/purging eating disorders) completed a set of questionnaires including the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS). The results revealed that binge eating/purging types of eating disorders were associated with greater difficulties in a variety of emotion regulation dimensions including impulse control, goal-directed behavior and access to effective emotion regulation strategies. Awareness and clarity of emotions were also worse in the binge eating/purging types of eating disorders, but this difference did not remain when comorbid psychopathology measures were controlled for. Moreover, the emotion regulation profile of adolescents with anorexia nervosa-binging/purging type was more similar to that of adolescents with bulimia nervosa than to that of adolescents with anorexia nervosa-restrictive type. While both restrictive and binge eating/purging eating disorders have been associated with emotion regulation difficulties, the current study shows that the presence of binge eating or purging episodes is linked with greater severity of emotion regulation deficits among adolescents with eating disorders.
KeywordsEmotion regulation Eating disorders Adolescence DERS
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study formal consent is not required.
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