Theoretical models in anorexia nervosa (AN) implicate difficulties with emotion regulation as a maintaining factor. To date little is known about how different factors might maintain these difficulties. Forty eight women were recruited, 24 receiving treatment for AN (called broadly defined AN) and 24 healthy controls. Self-report measures of difficulties with emotion regulation and current depression were used in addition to computerized tasks which provided measures of social attentional bias and anger-threat bias, as well negative affective memory and recognition bias. Compared to controls, women with AN had significantly higher levels of difficulties with emotion regulation, depression, and negative affective memory bias, as well as lower bias for anger-threat. Simultaneous examination of the two variables that met pre-conditions for mediation of the relationship between group membership and difficulties with emotion regulation (anger-threat bias and negative affective memory) indicated negative affective memory bias to be a mediator, accounting for around one-third of the total effect a diagnosis of AN has on difficulties with emotion regulation. The association of these variables with AN may indicate shared risk factors with depression, and the variety of therapeutic approaches found to be effective with depression may be useful to further incorporate into treatments for AN.
- Anger-threat bias
- Anorexia nervosa
- Difficulties with emotion regulation
- Negative affective memory bias