Category: Child / Adolescent - Trauma / Maltreatment
Background: Emotional nonacceptance—a subcomponent of emotion dysregulation referring to an unwillingness to experience negative emotional states—has been implicated in greater trauma symptomology among trauma-exposed individuals. Research has also found that elevated anxiety is associated with greater posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity in this group. Yet, no studies to date have examined whether anxiety may be an underlying mechanism in the relationship between emotional nonacceptance and PTSD symptom severity. To fill this gap, the present investigation examined direct and indirect effects between emotional nonacceptance and PTSD symptom severity through anxiety symptoms in a diverse sample of trauma-exposed inpatient adolescents.
Method: Inpatient adolescent participants (N = 50; 52.0% female; Mage = 15.1 years, SD = .51; 44% White) completed a test battery that included measures of emotion dysregulation (Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale [DERS]; Gratz & Roemer, 2004), anxiety symptoms (Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale [RCMAS]; Reynolds & Richmond, 1978), and PTSD symptomatology (Childhood PTSD Symptom Scale [CPSS]; Foa, Johnson, Feeny, & Treadwell, 2001). Results: Hayes’ (2012) PROCESS modeling was used to examine the mediating effect of anxiety on the relationship between emotional nonacceptance and PTSD symptom severity. The overall model was significant and explained 61% of the variance in PTSD symptoms, even after controlling for age, gender, and depression symptoms (F [5, 44] = 13.99, p < .01). The indirect effect of emotional nonacceptance via anxiety symptoms in relation to trauma symptoms was also significant (B = .22, SE = .12, 95% CI [.04, .54]). Conclusions: Findings suggest that increasing acceptance of negative emotions may decrease anxiety, and in turn decrease PTSD symptom severity. Thus, increasing acceptance of negative emotions may be a valid intervention target among inpatient youth at risk for PTSD.
Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student
University of Houston