398 Coping Strategies & Mental Health

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Research by Zainal, Nur, Hani, & Newman, M. G. (2019).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S. 

Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorders are mental disorders that often reoccur after a period of remission. What coping strategies might reduce their frequency?

Researchers evaluated the relationship between disorder frequency and coping strategies such as goal persistence (continued striving despite setbacks), self-mastery (belief in one’s ability to learn self-control), and positive reappraisal (optimism). Researchers studied if an increase in these coping strategies would decrease disorder rate. And vice versa—if an increase in disorder frequency would result in using these coping strategies less.

About 3,300 individuals, ages 20 to 74, completed a self-report of their disorder frequency and use of coping Strategies. Researchers collected this data on three occasions over 18 years.

Results? Only if the goal persistence strategy increased or initially was high, along with optimism, did the number of disorders decline. If levels of goal persistence and positive reappraisal declined, depression and anxiety increased. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression or anxiety, encourage them to keep striving towards their goals even when they have setbacks. That persistence will have long term positive effects. Try to find positivity in each little step!

Reference:

Zainal, N., H., & Newman, M. G. (2019). Relation between cognitive and behavioral strategies and future change in common mental health problems across 18 years. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 128(4), 295-304.

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About Author

Adele Hall is the administrative assistant for the School of Psychology in charge of uploading the Psychology Science minutes. The authors of the minutes are listed in the written portion. The Psychology Science Minutes are coordinated by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D., faculty emerita, and reviewed by former Dean Mary Beth Kenkel, faculty emerita.

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