The Ability To Describe Negative Emotions Reduces Depression Risk Among Teens

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. The mental disorder can even lead to suicide. With depression and suicide rates being so high, it is crucial to find cures. The ailment is particularly present among adolescents. Teenage girls being at more risk. About 17% of high school students have thought about suicide as per CDC data.

Not only does depression impact the individual but the social and economic circumstances of a nation as well. A latest report addresses this global concern with regards to NED. NED refers to negative emotion differentiation. The findings of this study may help find ways to treat one’s depressive response to stress.

The journal Emotion has published this new study. It says that adolescents who can give words to their negative emotions are better guarded against depression. This is in comparison to those who cannot give words to what they are feeling.

What Did This Study Find?

Author of the study, Lisa Starr, explained the link between depression and NED in detail. She says that teens who use “granular terms” to describe emotions after a stressful episode have more protection against depression. How does scoring high on NED help though? Basically, identification of feelings helps teens form coping strategies and learn lessons from emotions.

Emotions can be complicated. Forming connections between them to find one’s state helps make a plan of action. On the other hand, children who score low on NED have reduced mental well-being. This study was conducted solely on teenagers looking at how depression is increasing in this age-group.

Previous research has already shown a link between low NED and depression. However, there’s always been the question of which comes first. Does low NED indicate depression, or it is a result of depression? Researchers took in 233 mid-teens with the average age of 16 for the study. Participants gave diagnostic interviews for evaluation of depression.

Adolescents also gave reports about their emotions. This they did four times each day for a period of 7 days. After a year and a half follow-up interviews were conducted. Of all, 193 of the participants returned for interviews. This was done to analyze longitudinal results. It was found that teens who couldn’t differentiate negative emotions after stress had a higher risk of depression.

Meanwhile, those who could had reduced likelihood of becoming depressed in the long run. Starr further says, “you need to know the way you feel, in order to change the way you feel.” She also added that possible treatments targeting NED to modify it can help. Changing NED can change the depression-inducing effect of stress.

Key Takeaway

More research is being conducted on depression noting its prevalence among teenagers. In this regard, a latest study has found that a high score of NED reduces depression risk. However when NED is low, depression risk is higher. This is because only when emotions can be recognized, can they be handled better.