• Michael Ceccon

Research: Labeling Emotions Protects Against Depression


In recent research, it was shown that adolescent's that had the ability to identify negative emotions protected against depression. Specifically, the research shows that "low NED (negative emotion differentiation) was correlated with depression but did not predict prospective changes in depression as a main effect."

While this research was conducted among adolescents, it is helpful to understand that the ability to label negative emotions and reduce their impact is a helpful tool for emotional regulation in adults as well.

Whether an adult or adolescent, we can all benefit from being able to use this skill in the moment. If we can better practice this, we can improve our state of being and also model this skill for those around us. Parents can practice emotional regulation while also demonstrating for their adolescents and children how to effectively use these skills.

When you are having a rough day, get aggravated, irritated, angry, or life just seems to be getting you down, go through the process of identifying and labeling the specific emotions and feelings you are experiencing. Not only will it help you better connect to your direct experience, it will also help you get clear about your needs in the moment so you can better show up for yourself, set appropriate boundaries, and even practice better self-care.

This type of practice can literally inhibit your amygdala response which is the trigger for your fight, flight, freeze response which shuts down your prefrontal cortex. You can take your body out of a stress inducing response and move into a more relaxed state and better access your ability to emotionally regulate and problem solve.

Check out the links below to see the research:

Teenagers’ ability to describe negative emotions protects against depression

Emotion differentiation moderates the prospective relationship between naturalistic stress exposure and adolescent depression.

Putting feelings into words: affect labeling disrupts amygdala activity in response to affective stimuli

Putting Feelings Into Words: Affect Labeling as Implicit Emotion Regulation


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