Depression and risky alcohol use: an examination of the role of difficulties regulating positive emotions in trauma-exposed individuals

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Date of Original Version



Background: The co-occurrence of depression and risky alcohol use is clinically relevant given their high rates of comorbidity and reciprocal negative impact on outcomes. Emotion dysregulation is one factor that has been shown to underlie this association. However, literature in this area has been limited in its exclusive focus on emotion dysregulation stemming from negative emotions. Objectives: The goal of the current study was to extend research by exploring the role of difficulties regulating positive emotions in depression symptom severity, risky alcohol use, and their association. Methods: Participants were 395 trauma-exposed adults recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) platform (56.20% female, M age = 35.55) who completed self-report questionnaires. Results: Zero-order correlations among depression symptom severity, the three subscales of difficulties regulating positive emotions, and risky alcohol use were positive. Two subscales of difficulties regulating positive emotions—nonacceptance of positive emotions and difficulties controlling impulsive behavior when experiencing positive emotions—accounted for the relationship between depression symptom severity and risky alcohol use. Conclusion: Results suggest the importance of incorporating techniques focused on improving positive emotion regulation skills in interventions for risky alcohol use among individuals with depression.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse