Objective: Growing evidence links mindful awareness to the regulation of emotion, yet little is known about the temporal features of this association. This preliminary prospective study aimed to test the bidirectional relationship between mindful awareness, emotion regulation, anxiety, and depressive symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum.
Method: One-hundred forty-nine women completed an online survey at any stage during pregnancy and at 3-6 months postpartum. Psychosocial variables were assessed using validated, self-report measures.
Results: Bootstrapped mediation analysis demonstrated a bidirectional association between mindful awareness and emotion regulation for anxiety, but not depressive symptoms. Conclusions: Results provide partial support for the hypothesized bidirectional relationship, whereby mindful awareness facilitates adaptive regulation of anxiety, but not depressive symptoms, and in turn, emotion regulation enhances the ability for present moment awareness.
KEY POINTS What is already known about this topic:
(1) Mindfulness and emotion regulation are conceptually and empirically related. (2) Emotion regulation has been proposed as a pathway through which mindfulness exerts influence on mental health.
(3) Mindfulness has also been linked with emotion regulation.
What this topic adds:
(1) Preliminary support for a temporal bidirectional relationship.
(2) Preliminary support for a reciprocal relationship in a perinatal context.
(3) Reciprocal relationship may not be evidenced in relation to depression.
- mindful awareness
- emotion regulation
- postnatal depression