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Emotion Regulation Flexibility in Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Abstract

People differ in their affective styles, which refers to habitual use of emotion regulation (ER) strategies. Previous research has shown that mental health is associated with an individual’s adaptive flexibility of emotion regulation strategies rather than any one particular ER strategy. Methods: The present study employed a person-centered approach using latent profile analyses to distinguish patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) based on their responses on an affective styles measure. Results: Results of the latent profile analysis supported a three-class solution. Class 1 (26% of participants) identified individuals with the lowest scores of each affective style; class 2 (10%) included individuals with the highest scores of each style; and class 3 (64%) consisted of individuals who scored in the mid-range of each affective style. Greater ER flexibility was associated with better emotional functioning and quality of life. Conclusions: Patients with GAD differ in ER flexibility. The vast majority of patients appear to have only moderate or low ER flexibility. Those individuals with high ER flexibility show a greater quality of life and less emotional distress.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Diagnostic criteria of GAD is identical in the SCID-IV and ADIS-5.

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Contributors

Authors KC and JEC conceptualized the idea for this research and developed the methodological approach. Authors KC and ALB conducted the literature review. Author KC ran the analyses and wrote the first draft of the manuscript, with contributions and editing from JEC, ALB, SW, RL. Authors SGH, NMS, EB oversaw study design and management, data collection, and provided guidance on major methodological and conceptual decisions and provided revision of the manuscript. All authors have contributed to and approved the final manuscript.

Funding

This work was supported by the National Institute of Health/National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (R01AT007257: PIs Simon and Hofmann).

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Correspondence to Stefan G. Hofmann.

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Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (this study was approved by the Institutional Review Boards at three academic institutions: Boston University, Massachusetts General Hospital and New York University Langone Health) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Hofmann receives support from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (as part of the Humboldt Prize), NIH/NCCIH (R01AT007257), NIH/NIMH (R01MH099021, U01MH108168), and the James S. McDonnell Foundation twenty-first Century Science Initiative in Understanding Human Cognition – Special Initiative, and the Department of the Army for work unrelated to the studies reported in this article. He receives compensation for his work as editor from SpringerNature and the Association for Psychological Science, and as an advisor from the Palo Alto Health Sciences and for his work as a Subject Matter Expert from John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and SilverCloud Health, Inc. He also receives royalties and payments for his editorial work from various publishers. Dr. Simon receives funding from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Department of Defense, NIH, Highland Street Foundation, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Janssen. She also receives compensation for her work as a speaker for the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Academy and her role as a consultant with Axovant Sciences, Springworks, Praxis Therapeutics, and Aptinyx. Her spouse has an equity stake in G1 Therapeutics. Dr. Bui receives royalties from Springer Nature for a textbook on Grief Reactions. Dr. Bui receives grant funding from the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, NIH, and the Department of Defense.

All other authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

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Conroy, K., Curtiss, J.E., Barthel, A.L. et al. Emotion Regulation Flexibility in Generalized Anxiety Disorder. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 42, 93–100 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-019-09773-8

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Keywords

  • Emotion regulation
  • Anxiety
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Latent profile analysis