Association of Adolescent Internalizing Psychopathology with Reactivity to Distress

Association of Adolescent Internalizing Psychopathology with Reactivity to Distress

Association of Adolescent Internalizing Psychopathology with Reactivity to Distress

Dr. Lance Rappaport

University of Windsor

Andrew Nguyen

Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

FUNDER: Schulich-UWindsor Opportunities for Research Excellence Program (SWORP)


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The proposed project will be a subset of an overall parent longitudinal study conducted by Dr. Rappaport and funded by an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The overall project examines whether emotion dynamics in adolescents’ daily lives (e.g., emotional reactivity to stressful events) index emotional processing deficits that prospectively impact adolescents’ psychosocial (i.e., social, academic, psychiatric) well-being. On a daily basis, humans experience acute fluctuations in their momentary positive and negative affect, called “emotion dynamics,” which prompt them to respond accordingly to restore their emotional equilibrium and reduce distress. The magnitude and triggers of affective fluctuations vary from person-to-person, as does their effectiveness to regulate acute emotional distress. It is important to understand the contribution of dynamic emotional fluctuations to psychosocial well-being, particularly in adolescence, given that adolescent mental health poses a growing and prevalent challenge for public health and the limited prior research on emotion dynamics in this demographic. Within this specific (i.e., subset) project, we will conduct psychiatric assessments of all adolescent participants and identify whether, in adolescence, specific psychopathologies (e.g., anxiety disorders) are correlated with distinct alterations in emotional processing indexed by altered emotion dynamics (e.g., greater reactivity to daily stress). Through ecology momentary assessments, we will be assessing emotion on a temporal scale, which will accurately identify when our participants experience emotional distress. Findings from this project will further contribute to a clinical understanding of how adolescents with specific psychopathologies process and react to stressors differently, which will be useful in patient management and interventions. Results will inform ongoing consultation on youth mental health to local agencies within the community and development of academic curricula at the undergraduate and graduate level on youth mental health.

The project will also provide an innovative, practical training experience in pediatric psychiatric assessment, psychiatric nosology, and developmental psychopathology for the medical student researcher. The student will gain competencies in clinical learning and academic research as they will conduct psychiatric assessment and write impactful psychiatric research, which will be an asset for their medical clerkship and residency learning.