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  • Writer's pictureGreta Buyck Parkinson

Have you had times of feeling down or uneasy without being able to fully grasp the reasons why?

This timely research that landed in my inbox this morning is an excellent one for sharing mental wellness information.


Question: Have you or a loved one had times of feeling down or uneasy without being able to fully grasp the reasons why? Researchers at the University of Rochester conducted a study that showed teenagers who could describe their negative emotions were less likely to suffer depression than their peers who were lacking in this ability. The members conducting this study refer to this ability as "negative emotion differentiation" (NED), and define it as the ability to make fine tuned distinctions between negative emotions and give more accurate labels for them. One facet of my counseling work involves helping clients (children and adults) more accurately identify and describe their feelings. For example, rather than thinking "I feel sad" or "I just feel down", they can be taught to identify their feelings more specifically such as "I feel ashamed"," I feel frustrated" or "I feel afraid". Rather than having a generalized sense of unease, anxiety or feeling down, one can learn to identify and give a more precise description of the feeling. The results of this ability to differentiate is what helps individuals with coping strategies during times of emotional upheaval and stress. It is an important component of being able to regulate one's emotional response. Bottom line: The team of researches in this important study found that a low ability to differentiate between negative emotions was directly related to the inability to cope with stressful life events which could lead to depression and reduced mental and emotional wellbeing. In my opinion, this has far reaching implications for people of all ages. Emotion, 2019;DOI:10.1037/emoOOOO630

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