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Lower body weight is associated with less negative emotions in sad autobiographical memories of patients with anorexia nervosa.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2013
Author Brockmeyer Timo, Grosse Holtforth Martin, Bents Hinrich, Herzog Wolfgang, Friederich Hans-Christoph,
Project Explicit and implicit change of depression in exposure-based cognitive therapy
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Psychiatry research
Volume (Issue) 210(2)
Page(s) 548 - 52
Title of proceedings Psychiatry research
DOI 10.1016/j.psychres.2013.06.024


Food restriction and weight-loss have been proposed to represent pathogenic mechanisms of emotion regulation in anorexia nervosa (AN). However, there is a lack of studies empirically examining this hypothesis. Therefore, the present study compared 25 women with AN and 25 healthy control women (HC) regarding spontaneous emotional processing of autobiographic memories. Participants' idiographic memories of sad autobiographic events were analyzed using computerized, quantitative text analysis as an unobtrusive approach of nonreactive assessment. Compared to HC, AN patients retrieved more negative but a comparable number of positive emotions. Moreover, the lesser the body weight in AN patients, the lesser negative emotions they retrieved, irrespective of current levels of depressive symptoms and duration of illness. No such association was found in HC. These preliminary findings are in line with models of AN proposing that food restriction and weight-loss may be negatively reinforced by the alleviation of aversive emotional responses.