Emotion regulation in bipolar disorder: profile and utility in predicting trait mania and depression propensity

Psychiatry Res. 2015 Feb 28;225(3):425-32. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.12.001. Epub 2014 Dec 11.


Current emotion regulation research in BD has tended to focus on the extent to which patients control their emotions using different cognitive strategies. Fewer studies have investigated whether patients with BD have difficulties in regulating other dimensions of emotion that serve a functional purpose and are thereby more amenable to change. To overcome this paucity of research we utilised a multi-dimensional measure of emotion regulation to characterise the emotion regulation profile of BD, and examine its utility in predicting trait mania and depression propensity. Fifty BD patients and 52 healthy controls completed the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) and the General Behaviour Inventory (GBI). Results indicated that patients had difficulties in emotion regulation across a range of dimensions. Impulse control difficulties most parsimoniously predicted trait (hypo)mania propensity in BD patients, whilst poor access to mood regulation strategies predicted depressive propensity. Predictors of the propensity to experience these moods differed in the control group. These findings represent an important step toward informing the development of new treatment strategies to remediate emotion regulation difficulties and improve BD symptomatology.

Keywords: Acceptance; Awareness; DERS; Emotional clarity; Impulsive behaviours; Mindfulness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / physiopathology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / classification
  • Bipolar Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Temperament / physiology*