Decentering predicts attenuated perseverative thought and internalizing symptoms following stress exposure: A multi-level, multi-wave study.

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Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Report
Length: 497 words

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Keywords Decentering; Stress; Perseverative thinking; Worry; Rumination; Depression; Anxiety Highlights * Negative life events and perseverative thinking are two well-established risk factors for anxiety and depression. * Perseverative thinking mediates the longitudinal association between negative life events and internalizing symptoms. * Decentering predicts the attenuated effects of negative life events and perseverative thinking on internalizing symptoms. * Decentering also predicts the attenuated effects of negative life events on brooding. * Decentering represents an important protective factor and target for clinical intervention. Abstract While research identifies a growing list of risk factors for anxiety and depression, it is equally important to identify potential protective factors that may prevent or reduce vulnerability to developing internalizing psychopathology. We hypothesized that forms of perseverative thinking, such as rumination and worry, act as mechanisms linking negative life experiences and prospective symptoms of anxiety and depression. More specifically, we investigated whether decentering, the meta-cognitive capacity to adopt a distanced perspective toward one's thoughts and feelings, serves as a protective factor at various points along this mediational pathway. A sample of 181 undergraduate students were recruited and assessed at five time points over a 12-week period. Multilevel modeling indicated that decentering was associated with an attenuated impact of (1) negative events on prospective depressive symptoms; (2) negative events on prospective brooding, and (3) brooding, pondering and worry on prospective internalizing symptoms. Multilevel moderated mediation analyses provided partial support for the hypothesis that perseverative thinking would mediate the longitudinal associations between negative life events and internalizing symptoms, with decentering attenuating risk at several connections of the indirect pathways. The strongest support was provided for moderated mediation models in which decentering was associated with attenuated relationships between negative events, brooding, and symptoms of depression. This study is the first to elucidate the role of decentering as a protective factor against anxiety and depressive symptoms at different points in the path from stress to perseverative thought to internalizing symptoms. Decentering therefore may be a critical target for clinical intervention to promote resilience against anxiety and depression. Author Affiliation: (a) University of Massachusetts Boston, USA (b) Rutgers University, USA (c) University of Michigan, USA (d) Temple University, USA (e) University of Southern California, USA * Corresponding author. University of Southern California, 3620 McClintock Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA. Article History: Received 13 July 2020; Revised 14 December 2021; Accepted 19 December 2021 (footnote)[white star] This work was supported by grants to Jonathan P. Stange from the National Institute of Mental Health (F31MH099761), the Association for Psychological Science, the American Psychological Foundation, and the American Psychological Association. Jonathan P. Stange was supported by grant 1K23MH112769-01A1 from NIMH. Jessica L. Hamilton was supported by NIH grants (T32HL082610; K01MH121584; L30MH117642). Lauren B. Alloy was supported by NIMH Grant MH101168. David M. Fresco was supported by NHLBI Grant R01HL119977, NINR Grant P30NR015326, NCCIH Grant R61AT009867, and NICHD Grant R21HD095099. Byline: Jenny L. Wu (a), Jessica L. Hamilton (b), David M. Fresco (c), Lauren B. Alloy (d), Jonathan P. Stange [jstange@usc.edu] (e,*)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A699667849