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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2009 Jul;37(5):739-47. doi: 10.1007/s10802-009-9301-9.

Equanimity to excess: inhibiting the expression of negative emotion is associated with depression symptoms in girls.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry MC 3077, University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Emotion dysregulation is often invoked as an important construct for understanding risk for psychopathology, but specificity of domains of emotion regulation in clinically relevant research is often lacking. In the present study Gross' (2001) model of emotion regulation is used to generate hypotheses regarding the relative contribution of two specific types of deficits in emotion regulation, inhibited and disinhibited expression of negative emotion, to individual differences in depressive symptoms in preadolescent girls. A sample of 232 9-year-old girls was recruited from a community based study. Depression symptoms were assessed via diagnostic interview. The mother and interviewer rated the girl's level of impairment. Questionnaires and observations were used to assess inhibited and disinhibited expression of negative emotion. Differences in inhibited expression of negative emotion typically explained more variance in depressive symptoms and impairment across informants than did disinhibited expression of negative emotion. Although disinhibited expression of negative emotion is associated with depression and impairment, inhibited expression appeared to be a necessary ingredient, suggesting that inhibited expression may be a particularly relevant deficit in emotion regulation in the development of depression in females.

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