Category: Child / Adolescent - Externalizing

Symposium

The Role of Negative Self-Statements in the Link Between Emotion Reactivity and Internalizing Symptoms

Friday, November 17
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Location: Cobalt 501, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: Anxiety | Depression | Emotion Regulation
Presentation Type: Symposium

BACKGROUND:  Evidence suggests that emotion reactivity is linked to internalizing disorders; however, the mechanisms by which emotion reactivity contributes to symptoms are less well understood, thereby limiting the development of prevention and intervention efforts.  Given the demonstrated role of cognitions, specifically self-talk, in internalizing symptoms, the current study explored associations between emotion reactivity, negative self-talk, and anxiety and depression.

METHODS: Participants were 71 adolescents recruited from a summer camp for at-risk youth (Mage = 12.34, 87% girls, 75% Black).  During the first week of camp, participants completed self-report measures of anxiety, depression, negative self-statements, and emotion reactivity.  Path analyses utilizing maximum-likelihood and bootstrapping were used to examine the indirect effect of emotion reactivity on anxiety and depression through negative self-statements.

RESULTS: When controlling for age, depression (β = .42, p < .001), emotion reactivity (β = .21, p = .007), and negative self-statements (β = .34, p = .001) were significantly associated with anxiety symptoms.  The indirect pathway was also significant (95% CI .04, .22), indicating that negative self-statements partially account for the link between emotion reactivity and anxiety.  In the depression model only anxiety symptoms (β = .52, p < .001) and negative self-statements (β = .40, p < .001) uniquely predicted depressive symptoms.  Further, the indirect pathway from emotion reactivity to depression through negative self-statements was not significant.

CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate the importance of emotion reactivity in contributing to anxiety symptoms in youth, and negative self-talk as a possible mechanism by which this occurs.  In contrast, emotion reactivity was not directly or indirectly associated with depressive symptoms; only anxiety and negative self-talk were uniquely linked to depressive symptoms.  These findings suggest that cognitive therapy may be particularly helpful for emotionally reactive and anxious youth.  Future research should consider other mechanisms by which emotion reactivity may contribute to depression to further inform treatment.

Jennifer Blossom

Doctoral Candidate
Clinical Child Psychology Program University of Kansas

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