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J Couns Psychol. 2014 Jul;61(3):374-82. doi: 10.1037/cou0000016.

Emotional awareness as a pathway linking adult attachment to subsequent depression.

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Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Although research links insecure adult attachment with depression, the emotional processes accounting for this association over time remain relatively unexplored. To address this gap, this study investigated whether deficits in emotional awareness serve as one explanatory process. Adult female caregivers (N = 417, Mage = 37.83) completed questionnaires annually for 3 years. As anticipated, attachment avoidance exerted an indirect effect on depression via emotional awareness. Attachment anxiety directly predicted subsequent depression, but the indirect effect through emotional awareness was nonsignificant. These results suggest that an avoidant attachment style interferes with the effective processing of emotions, thereby placing women at risk for depression. This research implicates emotional awareness as a potential target for interventions aimed at reducing depressive symptoms in mothers with avoidant attachment styles.

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