Differences in Emotion Regulation Difficulties Across Types of Eating Disorders During Adolescence

Noam Weinbach, Helene Sher, Cara Bohon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Emotion regulation appears to play a key role in eating disorders. However, prior attempts to associate specific emotion regulation abilities with specific types of eating disorders resulted in inconsistent findings. Moreover, far less is known about emotion regulation in eating disorders during adolescence, a critical period of emotional development. The current study addresses this gap, comparing emotion regulation characteristics between adolescents with restrictive types of eating disorders and those with binge eating or purging types of eating disorders. Ninety-eight adolescents with eating disorders (49 with restrictive and 49 with binge eating/purging eating disorders) completed a set of questionnaires including the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS). The results revealed that binge eating/purging types of eating disorders were associated with greater difficulties in a variety of emotion regulation dimensions including impulse control, goal-directed behavior and access to effective emotion regulation strategies. Awareness and clarity of emotions were also worse in the binge eating/purging types of eating disorders, but this difference did not remain when comorbid psychopathology measures were controlled for. Moreover, the emotion regulation profile of adolescents with anorexia nervosa-binging/purging type was more similar to that of adolescents with bulimia nervosa than to that of adolescents with anorexia nervosa-restrictive type. While both restrictive and binge eating/purging eating disorders have been associated with emotion regulation difficulties, the current study shows that the presence of binge eating or purging episodes is linked with greater severity of emotion regulation deficits among adolescents with eating disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1351-1358
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume46
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • DERS
  • Eating disorders
  • Emotion regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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