Relative effectiveness of reappraisal and distraction in regulating emotion in late-life depression.
OBJECTIVES: The present study compares the effectiveness of two strategies, reappraisal and distraction, in reducing negative affect in older adults induced by focusing on personally relevant negative events and stressors. PARTICIPANTS: 30 adults with major depressive disorger (MDD) and 40 never-depressed (ND) comparison participants ages 60 years and over (mean age = 69.7 years). DESIGN AND MEASUREMENTS: Participants underwent three affect induction trials, each followed by a different emotion regulation strategy: distraction, reappraisal, and a no-instruction control condition. Self-reported affect was recorded pre- and post-affect induction, and at one-minute intervals during regulation. RESULTS: Across groups, participants reported greater reductions in negative affect with distraction than reappraisal or the no-instruction control condition. An interaction between group and regulation condition indicated that distraction was more effective in reducing negative affect in the MDD group than the ND group. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that distraction is an especially effective strategy for reducing negative affect in older adults with MDD. Finding ways to incorporate distraction skills into psychotherapeutic interventions for late-life MDD may improve their effectiveness, especially for short-term improvement of affect following rumination.
Smoski, MJ; LaBar, KS; Steffens, DC
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