Sustained negative affect is a hallmark feature of depressive episodes. The ability to regulate emotional responses to negative events may therefore play a critical role in our understanding of this debilitating disorder. Individual differences in cognitive processes such as attention, memory, and interpretation may underlie difficulties in emotion regulation and numerous studies have identified cognitive biases and deficits that characterise depressed people. Few studies, however, have explicitly linked these biases to the difficulties in emotion regulation that are associated with depression. In this paper we discuss relations among cognitive processes and emotion regulation and review the depression literature to identify cognitive biases and deficits that may underlie maladaptive responses to negative events and mood states. Our review suggests that difficulties in the disengagement from negative material, memory biases, and deficits in cognitive control are frequently observed in depressive disorders and may be associated with the use of maladaptive emotion regulation strategies, such as rumination. These biases may also be related to difficulties implementing strategies that are effective for non-depressed people, such as recall of mood-incongruent material and reappraisal. Our review also suggests, however, that empirical studies linking cognitive biases and emotion regulation in depression are still largely missing and would present an important goal for future research in this area.
- Cognitive bias
- Emotion regulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology