Keywords: Emotion Regulation | PTSD Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Ecological Momentary Assessment
Presentation Type: Symposium
A burgeoning line of research identifies emotion regulation difficulties as a potential maintenance factor for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, little is known in regards to the emotion regulation strategies individuals with PTSD use in their daily lives, and whether particular emotion regulation strategies lead to increased PTSD symptoms. As such, the current study utilized an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) design to explore prospective relationships between emotion regulation strategy use and later PTSD symptoms among a sample of those with PTSD (N=30).
Participants completed 4 EMAs per day over 8 days, assessing stressors, emotional response, and emotion regulation strategy use. Cognitive re-appraisal, acceptance, and problem solving were considered adaptive emotion regulation strategies, while thought suppression, rumination, expressive suppression, impulsive behaviors, and avoidance were considered maladaptive.
Stressors were reported in 3.3% of the 960 assessments. In those assessments, 75.0% reported using avoidance, followed by acceptance (71.8%), problem solving (62.5%), rumination (62.5%), suppression (50.0%), cognitive re-appraisal (40.6%), and impulsive behavior (28.2%). Multilevel modeling indicated that after covarying for morning PTSD symptoms, maladaptive emotion regulation strategy use prospectively predicted increased PTSD symptoms later in the day (B=1.42, SE=.53, p = .007, 95% CI[.38, 2.46]), with a proportional reduction in variance (PRV) of 92.6%. When adaptive emotion regulation strategy use was added to the model, it did not significantly predict later PTSD symptoms (B=.12, SE=.49, p=.805, 95% CI[-.84, 1.08]).
Results indicate that using maladaptive emotion regulation strategies in response to daily stressors exacerbates PTSD symptoms. Future research should refine this model (e.g., test mediators) or incorporate psychophysiological assessment. However, results are in line with conceptualizations of emotion dysregulation as a transdiagnostic factor impacting PTSD. Additionally, results highlight the potential clinical utility of assisting clients in decreasing the use of maladaptive emotion regulation strategies.
Clinical Psychology Graduate Student
Florida State University
Saturday, November 18
10:15 AM – 11:45 AM
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