Category: Child / Adolescent - Depression
Emotion regulation is a critical factor in psychological well-being. A fundamental component of emotion regulation is emotional clarity, or one’s ability to identify and differentiate between emotions. An established body of research has found that deficits in emotional clarity confer vulnerability to a variety of mental health issues. In particular, it has been shown that deficits in emotional clarity contribute to internalizing problems (e.g., depression, anxiety), and, reciprocally, deficits in emotional clarity can be a consequence of internalizing problems. However, despite evidence for a deeply intertwined relationship between emotional clarity and internalizing problems, no study to date has examined whether anxiety intensifies the relationship between deficits in emotional clarity and depression outcomes. The current study extended prior research by examining anxiety symptoms as a potential moderator of the relation between emotional clarity and depressive symptoms in a community sample of adolescents (N = 490; Mage = 18.47; 52.9% female). Results suggested that elevated levels of anxiety interact with lower levels of emotional clarity to predict depressive symptoms, specifically for girls. For females, the association between deficits in emotional clarity and depressive symptoms strengthened at higher levels of anxiety (B = -.01, SE = .01, t = -2.11, p = .04). These results are consistent with recent studies that have found that deficits in emotional clarity are more pronounced in girls than boys and underscore the importance of addressing emotional clarity deficits in female adolescents. Further, with replication, the findings suggest that targeting anxious symptomology may attenuate the effects of deficits in emotional clarity. Enhanced emotional clarity, in turn, may inform more adaptive and resourceful coping strategies to ameliorate negative mental health outcomes.
David Siegel– Research Assistant, Temple University
Brae Anne McArthur– Postdoctoral Fellow, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Lauren Alloy– Joseph Wolpe Distinguished Faculty in Psychology, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania