The importance of distinguishing between the different eating disorders (sub)types when assessing emotion regulation strategies

Psychiatry Res. 2014 Mar 30;215(3):727-32. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.01.005. Epub 2014 Jan 11.


People with eating disorders (ED) have difficulties regulating their emotions adaptively. Little is known about differences and similarities between different types of ED and how these regulation difficulties relate to other emotional problems. The present study examines maladaptive (suppression) and adaptive (cognitive reappraisal) emotion regulation strategies in women with different ED and relationships with anxiety and depression levels. In 32 women with AN restrictive subtype (ANR), 32 with AN binge-purge subtype (ANBP), 30 with bulimia nervosa (BN), 29 with binge eating disorder (BED), and 64 healthy women, the ERQ (emotion regulation) as well as STAI-T (anxiety), BDI-SF (depression), and EDDS (eating pathology) were administered. Women across different ED subtypes were inclined to suppress emotions and lacked the capacity to reappraise emotions (except women with ANBP). Correlational relations of suppression and reappraisal with anxiety and depression levels differed across ED groups. Emotion regulation problems were found across ED subtypes. However, the types of emotion regulation problems, and the effect of coexisting other emotional problems such as anxiety and depression may differ across ED subtypes. These findings illustrate the importance to of considering ED subtypes in emotion regulation research rather than consider ED as a whole.

Keywords: Anorexia nervosa; Anxiety; Binge eating disorder; Bulimia nervosa; Cognitive reappraisal; Depression; Emotion suppression.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / etiology*
  • Affective Symptoms / pathology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / psychology
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Bulimia Nervosa / psychology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emotions*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / classification
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / complications*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult