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Understanding emotion regulation strategies across the depressive mood spectrum


Emerging data suggest that bipolar disorder (BD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) cannot be differentiated on the basis of depression symptom expression alone (e.g., Weinstock et al., 2013), suggesting a need to focus instead on other constructs that may more effectively differentiate the two disorders. In the current study, depressed adults with BDI (n = 30) and MDD (n = 30), as well as healthy controls without a history of psychiatric illness (CTLs; n= 30), completed self-report measures of depressive (QIDS-SR) and manic (ASRM) symptom severity, as well as utilization of certain emotion regulation strategies (ERQ). The ERQ assesses use of the more adaptive emotion regulation strategy of cognitive reappraisal, and the more maladaptive strategy of expressive suppression of emotions. Results from regression analyses utilizing a set of orthogonal contrast codes revealed that, compared to CTLs, those with a mood disorder diagnosis were less likely to utilize cognitive reappraisal (F(1, 90) = 15.07, p less than 0.001) and more likely to utilize expressive suppression (F(1,90) = 8.87, p =.004) to regulate emotions. Although there were no differences between BD and MDD in the use of cognitive reappraisal (F(1,90) = 0.945, p = 0.334), analyses further revealed greater use of expressive suppression in the unipolar versus bipolar depressed group (F(1,90) = 9.01, p=0.004). Findings are consistent with more prior research demonstrating the greater positive emotionality of individuals with BD (Gruber et al, 2013), the generally dampened emotional affect of MDD individuals (Peeters 2010), and the found tendency toward suppression in MDD individuals (Ehring 2010). The findings will be discussed in the context of comparing and contrasting the depressive phases of the two disorders, relevant to both future research and treatment development.


Sejourne, Corinne, "Understanding emotion regulation strategies across the depressive mood spectrum" (2015). Summer Research Symposium. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.



  • Summer Research Symposium

    Each year, Brown University showcases the research of its undergraduates at the Summer Research Symposium. More than half of the student-researchers are UTRA recipients, while others receive funding from a variety of Brown-administered and national programs and fellowships and go …