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Emotion. 2012 Apr;12(2):283-9. doi: 10.1037/a0025046. Epub 2011 Oct 10.

Emotional inertia prospectively predicts the onset of depressive disorder in adolescence.

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Department of Psychology, University of Leuven, Belgium.


Emotional inertia refers to the degree to which a person's current emotional state is predicted by their prior emotional state, reflecting how much it carries over from one moment to the next. Recently, in a cross-sectional study, we showed that high inertia is an important characteristic of the emotion dynamics observed in psychological maladjustment such as depression. In the present study, we examined whether emotional inertia prospectively predicts the onset of first-episode depression during adolescence. Emotional inertia was assessed in a sample of early adolescents (N = 165) based on second-to-second behavioral coding of videotaped naturalistic interactions with a parent. Greater inertia of both negative and positive emotional behaviors predicted the emergence of clinical depression 2.5 years later. The implications of these findings for the understanding of the etiology and early detection of depression are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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