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Clínica y Salud

On-line version ISSN 2174-0550Print version ISSN 1130-5274


CALVO SAGARDOY, Rosa et al. Emotional processing in adult and adolescent ED patients: emotional recognition and regulation. Clínica y Salud [online]. 2014, vol.25, n.1, pp.19-37. ISSN 2174-0550.

Objective. Though difficulties in emotional processing have been associated to eating disorders (EDs), the debate as to whether these difficulties are antecedents or consequence of EDs remains a contentious issue. Most studies have focused on long-term adult patients, but few studies have assessed adolescent patients. This study compared difficulties in emotional recognition and regulation in adult and adolescent patients to determine if they were predisposing factors and/or maintenance factors. Method. A total of 48 patients (27 adults, 21 adolescents) were compared with 41 healthy controls (13 adults, and 28 adolescents) using the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS). Results. All of the patients exhibited more difficulties in emotional recognition (alexithymia) and regulation than controls. No differences were observed among patients in terms of body mass index (BMI). The intensity of these difficulties was modulated by age and the severity of the disorder. Alexithymia was more intense in adult patients than in adolescent patients, but both groups showed similar difficulties in emotional acceptance and regulation. Severely affected patients (adult and adolescents) exhibited higher levels of alexithymia, rejection, and emotional dysfunction. Conclusion. It is crucial that emotional therapeutic interventions are carried out from the commencement of treatment. Prevention programmes should enhance recognition, emotional acceptance, and regulation in individuals at risk.

Keywords : Anorexia; Bulimia; Adolescents; Alexithymia; Emotional regulation.

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