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Attachment Insecurity and Depression: The Mediating Role of Interpersonal Emotion Regulation



Insecure attachment is predictive of depression and emotion regulation is largely recognized as a mediator of such association. Despite the ability to refer to the social context to regulate emotions can be considered as a key aspect of depressive dynamics, most studies focused on intrapersonal forms of emotion regulation neglecting its interpersonal forms. In the present study, we investigated the role of interpersonal emotion regulation (IER) as mediator of the association between attachment insecurity and depression.


Data were collected from 630 adults using scales assessing individual differences in the use of IER strategies, IER difficulties, attachment orientations, and depression symptoms. We tested the correlations between the considered variables and, additionally, a latent structural equation model was tested to determine the mediating role of IER in the relationship between attachment (anxiety and avoidance) and depression.


Positive associations between the use of IER and anxious attachment, and negative associations with avoidant attachment were found. Depression symptoms were significantly predicted by difficulties in IER (Venting and Reassurance-Seek), but not by IER strategies. The mediation analyses showed that attachment insecurity statistically predicted depression, mediated by IER difficulties.


These results account for increasing risk of depression due to a vicious cycle in which anxious attached individuals use venting and reassurance-seek with the aim of decreasing their negative emotions, but reach the opposite result of exacerbating negative moods.

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Messina, I., Maniglio, R. & Spataro, P. Attachment Insecurity and Depression: The Mediating Role of Interpersonal Emotion Regulation. Cogn Ther Res 47, 637–647 (2023).

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