Despite important advances in our understanding of emotion dysregulation in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD; e.g., Mennin et al., 2005, 2007; Newman & Llera, in press; Roemer et al., 2008), this condition remains poorly understood (Dugas, 2001), is more refractory to psychotherapeutic treatment than the rest of the anxiety disorders (Borkovec & Ruscio, 2001), and displays a problematic diagnostic overlap with depression that has led several theorists to propose to combine it and depression into a "distress disorders" category in future editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM; e.g. Watson et al., 2008). In this dissertation, I propose an expansion in the study of GAD consisting of the broadening of our understanding of emotion dysfunction beyond the role of avoidance by examining the joint influence of approach in the generation and regulation of affective processes in this disorder. I conducted two observational and one experimental study to delineate the relationship between the behavioral approach system (BAS; Carver & White, 1994; Gray & McNaughton, 2000) and emotion generation and regulation in GAD. Across the three studies, individuals high and low in GAD did not differ from each other in the strength of their trait level BAS, suggesting that BAS has normative fluctuations in the context of GAD. In addition, most of the evidence suggests that in GAD, BAS is associated with intense positive and negative emotions reflective of joint activation of the behavioral approach and avoidance systems (i.e., motivational conflict). The findings on emotion regulation were mixed, underscoring the importance of examining the relationship among activity in the emotional domains (rather than the domains in isolation), and how this, in turn relates to adaptive regulatory responses. The framework proposed in this dissertation will hopefully constitute a compelling argument for a conceptual and methodological shift in how we think of emotion processes within the context of this complex and refractory condition.
|Advisor:||Mennin, Douglas S.|
|School Location:||United States -- Connecticut|
|Source:||DAI-B 73/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Psychobiology, Clinical psychology|
|Keywords:||Depression, Emotion, Emotion regulation, Generalized anxiety disorder, Motivation, Psychophysiology|
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