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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2012 Jul-Aug;30(4):492-8. Epub 2012 Aug 29.

Dealing with emotions when the ability to cry is hampered: emotion processing and regulation in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome.

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Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



The hampered ability to cry in patients with Sjögren's syndrome may affect their ways of dealing with emotions. The aim of this study was to examine differences in emotion processing and regulation between people with and without Sjögren's syndrome and correlations of emotion processing and regulation with mental well-being.


In 300 patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome and 100 demographically matched control participants (mean age 56.8 years, 93% female), emotion processing (affect intensity and alexithymia, i.e. difficulty identifying and describing feelings), emotion regulation (cognitive reappraisal, suppression and expression of emotions), and mental well-being were assessed.


Criteria for clinical alexithymia applied to 22% of the patients and 12% of the control participants; patients had significantly more difficulty identifying feelings than control participants. No other significant differences in emotion processing and emotion regulation were found. In patients, the emotion processing styles affect intensity and alexithymia (0.32<r<0.51) and the emotion regulation strategy suppression of emotions (r=0.13) significantly correlated with worse mental well-being, which is about similar to control participants.


Processing and regulating emotions in patients with Sjögren's syndrome does not deviate from normal with one exception: a relatively large number of patients is alexithymic. As in the general population, in patients with Sjögren's syndrome the more intense and deficient processing and regulation of emotions is associated with worse mental well-being. This study indicates that, except for selected patients, processing and regulation of emotions is not a key therapeutic issue for the majority of patients with Sjögren's syndrome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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