The role of emotion regulation in the association of adult attachment and mental health: A systematic review
Attachment style is one of the most significant driving forces across the lifespan as identified by a variety of studies. Many studies have suggested that there might be an association between attachment and mental health. In a different thread of research, studies provided evidence that dysfunctional emotion regulation has a potential impact on an individual’s mental health. The present review has the purpose to examine available papers on the association of adult attachment with mental health with particular emphasis on the role of emotion regulation in this association.
A database search was conducted for published data in Psych INFO, Elsevier and Google Scholar by combining search terms: ‘adult attachment’, ‘mental health, diseases or illnesses’ and ‘emotion regulation’.
A total of 182 studies were identified and screened, and finally 19 studies met inclusion criteria. Results of this review revealed a moderate association between insecure attachment and several mental disorders. Also, individuals with insecure attachment showed more difficulty in emotion regulation. However, some studies found no positive association between avoidant attachment and mental disease.
This review suggests that individuals with insecure attachment show an increased risk for mental disorders and that and emotion dysregulation might mediate this relationship. However, most of studies had non-clinical samples which could affect result. Therefore, further research is needed to examine clinical samples regarding the attachment in adulthood and mental health and the role of emotion regulation to come up with more accurate results in the future.