Adult Attachment, Emotion Dysregulation, and Symptoms of Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder


  • This work was funded, in part, by the Hunter College Gender Equity Project, NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Award 0123609. The authors thank Valerie Khait, Monique Fontes, Cary Chu, Dana Eiss, Lisa Lerner, Shama Goklani, and Alex Scilletta for their assistance with data collection, along with J. Blake Turner and Michelle Yakobson for comments on a previous draft of this article.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Regina Miranda, Department of Psychology, Hunter College, CUNY, 695 Park Ave., Room 611 HN, New York, NY 10065. Electronic mail may be sent to


Differences in attachment style have been linked to both emotion regulation and psychological functioning, but the emotion regulatory mechanism through which attachment style might impact symptoms of depression and anxiety is unclear. The present study examined the explanatory role of emotion dysregulation in the relation between adult attachment style and symptoms of depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in a sample of 284 adults. Secure attachment was associated with lower depression and GAD symptoms and lower emotion dysregulation, whereas insecure attachment styles were generally associated with higher depression and GAD scores and higher emotion dysregulation. Perceived inability to generate effective emotion regulation strategies mediated the relation between insecure attachment and both depression and GAD symptoms. Nonacceptance of negative emotions and inability to control impulsive behaviors emerged as additional mediators of the relation between insecure attachment styles and GAD symptoms. The differential contribution of attachment style and emotion regulation to the prediction of depression and GAD symptoms may reflect differences in vulnerability to depression and GAD.