Zeitschrift für Depression und Angst

Zeitschrift für Depression und Angst
Offener Zugang

ISSN: 2167-1044


Fears of Negative Emotions in Relation to Fears of Happiness, Compassion,Alexithymia and Psychopathology in a Depressed Population: A Preliminary Study

Paul Gilbert, Kirsten McEwan, Francisca Catarino and Rita Baião

Objectives: While fears of negative or aversive emotions are linked to experiential avoidance and psychopathology, recent studies have also focused on the relation between psychopathology and fear of positive emotions. This study explores 1. which negative emotions of anger, anxiety and sadness on most feared and avoided and 2. the links between fears and avoidance of negative emotions, with fears of positive and affiliative emotions, alexithymia, and self-reported depression anxiety and stress. Method: A new scale was developed to measure fears of three negative emotions anxiety anger and sadness. 52 participants suffering from moderate to severe depression completed this measure, along with fear of happiness, fears of compassion, alexithymia and psychopathology. Results: Interestingly fears of negative emotions were not correlated with each other; in other words one can be frightened of one negative emotion but not another. The correlation between the fear of an emotion and the avoidance of that emotion was different for the three negative emotions, with fear of anger being the most strongly linked to its avoidance. Fear of sadness was the only feared ‘negative’ emotion associated with depression. Fear of sadness and fear of anger, but not anxiety also linked to fears of positive emotions and alexithymia. Conclusions: Fears of (so called) negative emotions vary in terms of the degree to which people are fearful of them and avoid them. Importantly it was sadness, a neglected emotion in the studies of emotion avoidance, which accounted for the higher proportion of variance for depression and alexithymia.