The impact of emotion regulation and mental health difficulties on health behaviours during COVID19

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J Psychiatr Res. 2021 Oct 11;143:409-415. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.10.001. Online ahead of print.


The COVID-19 outbreak is having a profound impact on individuals’ psychological and physical wellbeing. The aim of this study was to assess the extent of this impact and its mechanisms on a sample of adults living in Italy during the first lockdown (April-May 2020). Two hundred ninety-two individuals (67.1% females) were recruited from the community through social media. They completed baseline online questionnaires to collect demographic information, data on past and present general health and health behaviours, and to assess emotion regulation strategies. Participants completed a brief survey to assess mood and health behaviours three times a week, for three weeks. Individuals with lifetime psychiatric disorders (about 50%) reported greater negative mood and use of unhealthy behaviours over time, compared to those with no psychiatric vulnerability. The use of cognitive reappraisal to regulate emotions was associated with greater resilience (i.e., feelings of hope and resourcefulness, and ability to seek social support and enjoyable activities). Cognitive reappraisal is a skill that can be trained and could be utilised to buffer the effect of general stress (i.e. stress caused by the pandemic) on individuals’ wellbeing.

PMID:34655950 | DOI:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.10.001