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J Affect Disord. 2012 Dec 10;141(2-3):474-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.03.019. Epub 2012 Apr 6.

Increased suppression of negative and positive emotions in major depression.

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Department of Research, Evaluation and Documentation, Clinic of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Bethel, Remterweg 69-71, 33617 Bielefeld, Germany.



Patients with major depression (MDD) show increased suppression of negative emotions. Emotion suppression is related to depressive symptoms such as depressive mood and anhedonia. It is not clear whether MDD patients also suppress positive emotions. In the present study we aim to investigate suppression of both negative and positive emotions in MDD patients as well as the relation between emotion suppression and depressive symptoms. In addition, we suggest that emotion suppression might be associated with fear of emotions.


39 MDD patients and 41 matched healthy control subjects were investigated for emotion suppression and fear of emotions with the Emotion Acceptance Questionnaire (EAQ). In addition, we applied additional questionnaires to validate emotion suppression findings and to assess depressive symptoms.


MDD patients reported increased suppression of both negative and positive emotions. Suppression of negative and positive emotions was related to depressive symptoms. Patients also reported more fear of emotions than healthy subjects and this fear was related to emotion suppression in both study samples.


Due to the cross-sectional and correlational study design, causal directions between the variables tested cannot be stated.


Fear of emotion might be one reason why MDD patients suppress emotions. With regard to positive emotions, our results strongly suggest that therapeutic approaches should not only encourage patients to participate in potentially enjoyable situations but that patients may also benefit from practicing the allowance of pleasant emotions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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