Why does acculturative stress elevate depressive symptoms? A longitudinal study with emotion regulation as a mediator

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Abstract

Acculturative stress has repeatedly been shown to heighten depressive symptoms. However, the explanatory process between acculturative stress and depressive symptoms has been understudied, particularly in the Chinese context. This prospective study aims to investigate emotion regulation difficulties as a mechanism between acculturative stress and depressive symptoms. A sample of 154 Mainland Chinese female university students (Mage = 21.10; SD = 2.13) were recruited in Hong Kong 3 times, with a 4-month lag between assessment points. Mediation findings converged to suggest between-person indirect effect of acculturative stress on symptoms of depression via emotion regulation difficulties, above and beyond established mediators including self-stigma and social support. Specifically, greater acculturative stress was related to a higher level of emotion regulation difficulties. In turn, greater emotion regulation difficulties were related to a higher level of depressive symptoms. The stress-generating effect of depression via emotion regulation was not simultaneously supported. These findings are informative to researchers and practitioners aiming to alleviate depressive symptoms, particularly in the Chinese context of higher education that often involves intercultural contact and stress. Copyright © 2019 American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Early online date19 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Dec 2019

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Longitudinal Studies
Emotions
Depression
Hong Kong
Social Support
Research Personnel
Prospective Studies
Students
Education

Citation

Cheung, R. Y. M., Bhowmik, M. K., & Hue, M.-T. (2019). Why does acculturative stress elevate depressive symptoms? A longitudinal study with emotion regulation as a mediator. Journal of Counseling Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/cou0000412

Keywords

  • Acculturative stressors
  • Chinese context
  • Depressive symptoms
  • emotion regulation
  • University students