Relations between Emotional Expressivity Dimensions and DSM-5 Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Clusters in a Trauma-Exposed Community Sample

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Background and Objective. A growing body of literature indicates a significant contribution and role of positive and negative emotions (specifically expressivity) in post-traumatic stress disorder's (PTSD) symptomatology. The current study examined the facet-level relationships between emotional expressivity and PTSD. Specifically, we investigated which emotional expressivity dimension (impulse strength, negative emotional expressivity, and positive emotional expressivity) most strongly related to DSM-5 PTSD symptom clusters severity (intrusions, avoidance, negative alterations in cognition and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity). Methods. The sample of 123 trauma-exposed participants seeking mental health treatment completed the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) and the Berkeley Expressivity Questionnaire (BEQ). Results. Results of multivariate multiple regression analysis indicated that only intensity of emotion and difficulty in controlling such emotions (i.e., impulse strength) was strongly related to all four PTSD symptom clusters. The valence of emotional expressivity (positive or negative) was not related to any of the PTSD symptom clusters. Conclusions. Study findings highlight the role of emotional expressivity, specifically impulse strength, in PTSD's symptomatology and may inform guidelines for emotion-focused clinical work for trauma-exposed individuals with PTSD symptoms.

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Behaviour Change