Childhood emotional abuse and depression: The mediating roles of emotion regulation and resilience

Houghton, Megan and Greenwood, Leah Charlotte orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6193-0867 (2023) Childhood emotional abuse and depression: The mediating roles of emotion regulation and resilience. Abuse: An International Impact Journal, 4 (2). pp. 17-34. ISSN 2633-8742

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Childhood adverse experiences are associated with an increased susceptibility to low psychopathology. Childhood emotional abuse (CEA) is a widespread adversity, known to be associated with depression. Yet, the underlying mechanisms contributing to the relationship remain unclear. The present study aimed to explore the association between CEA and depression and identify potential mediating factors, focusing specifically on emotion regulation and resilience. Participants (N = 110) completed an online survey assessing experiences of CEA, depression levels, emotional regulation strategies, and resilience levels. A mediation analysis found that CEA has a direct influence on the onset of depression. Interestingly, only the expressive suppression emotional regulation strategy and resilience were found to mediate the relationship between CEA and depression. Cognitive reappraisal was not a mediator. The results add to the growing literature emphasising the association between CEA and depression. The implications for clinicians would be to explore the emotional regulation strategies and resilience in clients with known CEA. In the future, when assessing the outcome of CEA, it is critical to consider all aspects of the effects of CEA. Rather than primarily focusing on the presence of depression, clinicians should consider the fact that CEA often hinders one’s social, cognitive, and emotional development.

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