New research provides evidence that depressive symptom severity is associated with maladaptive emotion regulation strategies and trait anger, or the general tendency to become angry. The findings have been published in Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy.
Previous studies have found that depressed individuals tend to exhibit greater trait anger. Study authors Stefania Maria Crisan and Diana Mirela Nechita were interested in examining whether emotion regulation strategies were more important than trait anger in predicting depressive symptoms severity.
“Depression is a common occurrence among clients presenting for therapy,” said Crisan, a doctoral student at Babeş-Bolyai University. “As practicing therapists, we noticed that in some cases, clients that presented depressive symptomatology also presented increased levels of anger, and as such, we set out to investigate this relationship by looking at depression symptom severity and proneness to experience anger.”
“In regards to emotion regulation, this is a theme that interests both authors, as several studies in the literature indicate that emotion regulation processes could help broaden our understanding of psychopathology.”
For their study, the researchers recruited 203 Romanian participants diagnosed with major depressive disorder and asked them to complete assessments of depression severity, trait anger, depressive rumination, anger rumination and experiential avoidance.
Nechita and Crisan found that depressive rumination and trait anger both predicted the level of depressive symptoms severity. They also found that greater trait anger was associated with greater experiential avoidance.
Individuals with a high level of trait anger agree with statements such as “I have a fiery temper” and “It makes me furious when I am criticized in front of others,” with those with a high level of experiential avoidance agree with statements such as “I am afraid of my feelings” and “Worries get in the way of my success.”
“The results obtained in this study indicate that the tendency to experience anger, along with the tendency to focus repetitively on depressive symptoms, their causes, and their meaning might make us feel worse when depressed,” Crisan told PsyPost. “For clinicians, this research addresses the need to clinically assess both the presence of trait anger, and the strategies employed to regulate depression when working with clinically depressed clients.”
However, the researchers noted that future research is needed to untangle the causal relationships between the variables.
“This study employs a cross-sectional design, and although this could inform on the existing relationship between trait anger, emotion regulation strategies, and depressive symptoms, we cannot draw any causal conclusions,” Crisan said. “Secondly, studies investigating the effects of learning more adaptive emotion regulation strategies to regulate anger in depressed individuals also represents a future direction that could be addressed in further research of these concepts. Furthermore, these relationships need to be investigated from a longitudinal standpoint so as to get a more conclusive picture of how these processes unfold in time.”
The study, “Maladaptive emotion regulation strategies and trait anger as predictors of depression severity“, was published December 13, 2021.
This content was originally published here.