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Cogn Emot. 2013;27(3):441-52. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2012.719003. Epub 2012 Sep 10.

Emotion regulation difficulties in anorexia nervosa: Relationship to self-perceived sensory sensitivity.

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Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Changes in sensation (e.g., prickly skin) are crucial constituents of emotional experience, and the intensity of perceived changes has been linked to emotional intensity and dysregulation. The current study examined the relationship between sensory sensitivity and emotion regulation among adults with anorexia nervosa (AN), a disorder characterised by disturbance in the experience of the body. Twenty-one individuals with AN, 20 individuals with AN who were weight-restored, and 23 typical controls completed self-report measures of sensory sensitivity and emotion regulation. AN participants reported heightened sensory sensitivity and greater difficulty regulating emotions relative to controls. Self-perceived sensory sensitivity was associated with greater emotion dysregulation. Weight-restored AN participants reported greater ability to regulate emotions than their currently underweight counterparts, despite heightened sensitivity. Findings suggest that hypersensitivity may be a persisting feature in AN, and that weight restoration may involve improved ability to cope with sensation.

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