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Daily life affective dynamics as transdiagnostic predictors of mental health symptoms: An ecological momentary assessment study

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  • Xinxin Zhu
  • Yi Yang
  • Zhuoni Xiao
  • Abby Pooley
  • Ercan Ozdemir
  • Lydia Gabriela Speyer
  • Menchie Leung
  • Christina Thurston
  • Janell Kwok
  • Xuefei Li
  • Manuel Eisner
  • Denis Ribeaud
  • Aja Louise Murray
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/04/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of affective disorders
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)808-817
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date4/02/24
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Affective dynamics have been identified as a correlate of a broad span of mental health issues, making them key candidate transdiagnostic factors. However, there remains a lack of knowledge about which aspects of affective dynamics - especially as they manifest in the course of daily life - relate to a general risk for mental health issues versus specific symptoms. We leverage an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) study design with four measures per day over a two-week period to explore how negative affect levels, inertia, lability, and reactivity to provocation and stress in the course of daily life relate to mental health symptoms in young adults (n = 256) in the domains of anxiety, depression, psychosis-like symptoms, behaviour problems, suicidality, and substance use. Dynamic structural equation modelling (DSEM) suggested that negative affect levels in daily life were associated with depression, anxiety, indirect and proactive aggression, psychosis, anxiety, and self-injury; negative affective lability was associated with depression, physical aggression, reactive aggression, suicidal ideation, and ADHD symptoms; negative affective inertia was associated with depression, anxiety, physical aggression, and cannabis use; and emotional reactivity to provocation was related to physical aggression. The cross-sectional design, the limited span of mental health issues included, and the convenience nature and small size of the sample are limitations. Findings suggest that a subset of mental health symptoms have shared negative affective dynamics patterns. Longitudinal research is needed to rigorously examine the directionality of the effects underlying the association between affective dynamics and mental health issues.