Dr. Jutta Joormann
Yale University

Cognition and Emotion Regulation in Depression

Sustained negative affect and difficulties experiencing positive affect are hallmark features of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Recent research suggests that difficulties in emotion regulation (ER) are at the core of these cardinal symptoms of MDD with depressed patients exhibiting more frequent use of maladaptive ER and difficulties effectively implementing adaptive strategies. It remains unclear, however, what underlies these difficulties in ER. Cognitive theories of depression have a long tradition of focusing on cognitive factors that increase depression risk and maintain depressive episodes but the link between cognitive and affective aspects of MDD remains to be explored. It is proposed that cognitive biases and deficits in cognitive control putatively associated with depression affect emotion regulation in critical ways thereby setting the stage for maintained negative affect and diminished levels of positive affect. Implications for treatment will be discussed.