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The Contributing Role of Negative Affectivity and Experiential Avoidance to Increased Cardiovascular Risk



Depression and anxiety are independent risk factors for the onset of cardiovascular disease, independent of classical risk factors, such as smoking, obesity, or hypertension. The present paper argues that the tendency to avoid difficult thoughts and feelings helps explain this relationship. There is a strong positive relationship between experiential avoidance and negative affectivity. Experiential avoidance is also related to several health behaviors recognized for increasing cardiovascular risk and may help functionally explain why individuals engage in problematic behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, and binge eating. Treatments that undermine experiential avoidance could be useful psychosocial approaches to cardiovascular risk reduction.