Category: Adult Anxiety - GAD
Little to no experimental research to date has examined ways to reduce the impact of worry for people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). One promising strategy is mindfulness, defined as intentional attention toward the present moment with an attitude of acceptance. Experimental research has found that mindfulness reduces negative affect and improves emotion regulation. Many people with GAD use thought suppression to regulate emotion, but this is likely ineffective. This online study recruited 197 individuals with analogue GAD who underwent an experimental Worry Induction (versus no-worry control) and Regulation Strategy Condition (mindfulness versus thought suppression versus no-strategy control) before watching a sad film clip and reporting state positive and negative affect. There were significant interactions across induction groups for both positive (F (2, 189) = 3.15, p = .04, partialη2 = .03) and negative affect (F (2, 189) = 1.38, p = .03, partialη2 = .03). Mindfulness reduced negative affective responding only for those who had not been worrying, compared to the no-strategy control (M difference = -11.22, SE = 4.85, p = .02) and the thought suppression condition (M difference = -18.40, SE = 5.22 p = .00). Mindfulness increased positive affective responding only for those who had been worrying, compared to the thought suppression condition (M difference = 3.96, SE = 1.93, p = .04) and marginally compared to the no-strategy control (M difference = 3.36, SE = 1.92, p = .08). Thought suppression did not increase negative affect or reduce positive affect compared to no-strategy control. Results indicate that mindfulness meditation may work differently for people with GAD depending on whether it immediately follows a worry period. Additionally, thought suppression did not appear to have harmful effects on affective responding for this population, regardless of whether it follows a worry period. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.
Jessica Goodnight– Psychology Intern, Minneapolis VA Health Care System / Georgia State University, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Akihiko Masuda– Assistant Professor, University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Lizabeth Roemer– Professor, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
Kevin Swartout– Georgia State University
Page Anderson– Associate Professor, Georgia State University
Minneapolis VA Health Care System / Georgia State University