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Strategies of emotion regulation in adolescents and young adults with substance dependence or eating disorders
Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy
Some authors argue that both substance dependence and eating disorders should be considered as dependent behaviours. Similarities and differences between these disorders, however, remain unclear. This study compares processes of emotion regulation in adolescents and young adults (15 to 25 years old) with substance dependence (SD) or eating disorders (ED). One hundred and thirteen SD, 50 ED and 86 non-clinical subjects (NC), recruited in four French and Swiss locations, completed a self-report questionnaire of emotion regulation strategies. This questionnaire addresses the subjects' relationships, concerning past and present family, and refers to Main's (1990) concept of primary strategy (balanced activation and deactivation of attachment behaviours), and of secondary strategies (hyperactivation or excessive deactivation of the attachment system). Participants were also questioned in structured interviews, about life events and DSM-IV classification criteria. SD reported more adverse events than ED and NC. SD and ED reported using fewer primary strategies than NC, and SD had secondary strategies that were different from those of ED. Patients with eating disorders reported more hyperactivation, and SD reported more deactivation of the attachment system. It is hypothesized that while subjects with SD and ED have in common poorly regulated strategies, they differ in the way they process emotion or relationship-related information.
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