The contributory role of worry in emotion generation and dysregulation in generalized anxiety disorder

  • McLaughlin K
  • Mennin D
  • Farach F
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Abstract

The role of worry in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has been posited to serve as an avoidance of emotional experience, and emotion regulation deficits in GAD have been found in several previous studies. It remains unclear whether those with GAD experience more dysregulated emotions during periods of euthymia and positive affect or whether these deficits occur only during periods of worry. Individuals with GAD (with and without co-occurring dysphoria) and non-anxious controls were randomly assigned to receive a worry, neutral, or relaxation induction. Following the induction, all participants viewed a film clip documented to elicit sadness. Intensity of emotions and emotion regulation were examined following the induction period and film clip. The results revealed that, regardless of co-occurring dysphoria, individuals with GAD in the worry condition experienced more intense depressed affect than GAD participants in the other conditions and controls participants. In contrast, presence of worry appeared to have less impact on indices of emotion dysregulation, which were greater in participants with GAD compared to controls, but largely insensitive to contextual effects of worry or of relaxation. Following film viewing, both GAD participants with and without dysphoria displayed poorer understanding, acceptance, and management of emotions than did controls. However, acceptance and management deficits were most pronounced in individuals with both GAD and co-occurring dysphoria. Implications for the role of emotions in conceptualization and treatment of GAD are discussed. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Emotion
  • Emotion regulation
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Worry

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