Category: Child / Adolescent - Depression
The interpersonal theory of depression posits depressed individuals engage in specific support seeking behaviors to down-regulate affective symptoms of depression (Coyne, 1976a; 1976b). These behaviors include excessive reassurance seeking (Coyne, 1976a; 1976b; Joiner, Alfano, & Metalsky, 1992), conversational self-focus (Schwartz-Mette & Rose, 2009; 2016), and co-rumination (Rose, 2002). Interestingly, although these behaviors may reflect interpersonal emotion regulation strategies (Buhrmester & Prager, 1995), they have been studied almost exclusively in the context of depression, and whether emotion regulation deficits contribute to their use is unknown. What is more, given the high correlation between depression and emotion regulation deficits, it is unclear whether depression or emotion regulation deficits are driving the use of excessive reassurance seeking, conversational self-focus, and co-rumination. Data were drawn from a sample (N = 291) of older adolescents (M age = 18.9; SD = 2.09; 60.1% female). Participants reported on emotion regulation deficits (Gratz & Roemer, 2004), excessive reassurance seeking (Prinstein et al., 2005), conversational self-focus (Schwartz-Mette & Rose, 2009), and co-rumination (Rose, 2002). A structural equation model was tested in which participants’ depressive symptoms and emotion regulation deficits each predicted the three behaviors of interest. The model had a good fit (TLI = .94, CFI = .99, RMSEA = .07, ECVI = .14). Deficits in emotion regulation significantly predicted excessive reassurance seeking (ß = .41, p ß = .39, p < .001), and co-rumination (ß = .20, p < .05). Depression, however, did not significantly predict excessive reassurance seeking (ß = .13, p = .11), conversational self-focus (ß = -.12, p =.19), or co-rumination (ß = -.03, p =.73). Additional analyses examined contributions of emotion regulation subscales (e.g., impulsivity) as well as gender differences. The data suggest deficits in emotion regulation predict use of interpersonal emotion regulation strategies over and above depression symptoms. Interventions directed toward improving emotion regulation deficits may mitigate use of interpersonal behaviors that may have negative consequences for relationships and adjustment.