Negative affect mediates the relationship between use of emotion regulation strategies and general health in college-aged students
Lopez, Richard B.; Denny, Bryan T.
Patterns of dysregulated emotions can take a toll on both mental and physical health. Such patterns also put people at risk for affective disorders, including anxiety and depression. Early adulthood is a critical period during which affective disorders first develop, so there is a need to identify individual difference factors that predispose some young adults to develop anxiety and depression. Here, we recruited a sample of college-aged volunteers (N = 393) and assessed their use of multiple emotion regulation strategies, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and general health. We hypothesized that cognitive reappraisal would be associated with better health, via fewer reported depressive and anxiety symptoms, whereas expressive suppression would be associated with poorer health, via more depressive and anxiety symptoms. To test these hypotheses, we fit a mediation model with cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression as predictors, anxiety and depressive symptoms as mediating variables, and a global health measure as the outcome. There were robust direct and indirect associations in support of our hypotheses. These results suggest that targeting emotion regulation abilities in early adulthood may be an effective strategy to reduce the risk of developing affective disorders and improve overall health.
Emotion regulation; Negative affect; Health; Individual differences; College-aged