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Perthes, Karin; Kirschbaum-Lesch, Inken; Legenbauer, Tanja; Holtmann, Martin; Hammerle, Florian and Kolar, David R. (2021): Emotion regulation in adolescents with anorexia and bulimia nervosa: Differential use of adaptive and maladaptive strategies compared to healthy adolescents. In: International Journal of Eating Disorders, Vol. 54, No. 12: pp. 2206-2212

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Abstract

Objective Adolescents with anorexia (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) often struggle with emotion regulation (ER). These difficulties have predominantly been assessed across emotions, without considering adaptive and maladaptive ER separately. We compared adolescents with AN or BN to healthy adolescents (HCs) regarding the adaptive and maladaptive ER of three emotions. Method A treatment-seeking sample of 197 adolescents (atypical/full-threshold AN: N = 118, atypical/full-threshold BN: N = 32;HC: N = 47) reported emotion-specific ER with the FEEL-KJ questionnaire. Mixed models were calculated for adaptive and maladaptive ER to assess differences between emotions (anxiety, anger, and sadness) and groups (AN, BN, and HC). Results Main effects of emotion (p < .001) and group (p < .001) were found, but no interaction effects were found (p > .05). Post hoc tests showed lower maladaptive and higher adaptive ER for anxiety than anger or sadness (p < .001). AN and BN reported lower adaptive (p < .001) and higher maladaptive ER than HCs (p < .001). BN showed the highest levels of maladaptive ER (p = .009). Discussion The differences between AN and BN in adaptive and maladaptive ER should be considered. Furthermore, investigating differences in ER of other emotions in eating disorders might be promising.

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