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Emotion Dysregulation, Imagined Social Media Loss

Psychiatry Res; ePub 2017 Dec 19; Elhai, Hall, et al

Emotion dysregulation may be associated with psychopathology from social media loss, a recent study found. A sample of 359 students participated in a web survey and were administered the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire, and Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21) as a pre-test. Researchers then randomly assigned subjects to either 1) a smartphone loss group or 2) social media accounts loss group. Subjects were asked to imagine losing 2 days’ access to the technology in their respective group, and rate associated symptoms using the DASS-21. They found:

  • Compared to subjects in the smartphone loss group, social media loss subjects evidenced stronger relations between suppressive emotion regulation with depression, anxiety, and stress from imagined loss.
  • Controlling for age and gender, social media loss subjects’ increased use of suppression, and decreased use of cognitive reappraisal in emotion regulation, were related to depression, stress, and (for suppression only) anxiety due to imagined lost social media.
  • Emotion regulation was not related to psychopathology for subjects in the smartphone loss scenario.


Elhai JD, Hall BJ, Erwin MC. Emotion regulation’s relationships with depression, anxiety and stress due to imagined smartphone and social media loss. [Published online ahead of print December 19, 2017]. Psychiatry Res. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2017.12.045.

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