Feelings about Feelings: Examining the association between emotion-related stigma, emotion regulation and depression in young people.

Harvey, L. (University of Sydney), White, F. A. (University of Sydney), MacCann, C. (University of Sydney), Hunt, C. (University of Sydney)

Emotion dysregulation appears to play a central role in the development and maintenance of depression. However,  the role of contextual factors is being increasingly examined to understand why individuals may choose one emotion regulation strategy over another. One potential factor that may predict individuals’ emotion regulation behaviour are the beliefs they hold about the acceptability of their negative emotional experiences. Furthermore, it may be particularly important to understand the effects of such beliefs in young people given the high rates of mood disorders and suicide in this group in addition to this period acting as key period in attitude formation. The present research aimed to examine the relationship between emotion-related stigma, emotion regulation and depression amongst a) an early-adolescent sample (N = 666) and b) an emerging-adult sample (N = 201). In the emerging-adult sample, the relationship between beliefs about negative emotions and depression was fully mediated by increased emotion suppression and increased rumination in females only. Amongst the early adolescent sample, the relationship between emotion-related stigma and depression was partially mediated by reduced cognitive reappraisal and increased rumination in females, whereas in males this relationship was partially mediated through increased rumination only. These results highlight the potentially important relationship between emotion-related stigma and emotion regulation in future understanding, treatment and prevention of depressive disorders in young people.

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Close Relationships and Emotion