The Role of Positive Emotions in Reducing Depressive Symptoms Among Army Wives

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Abstract

The homecoming period following combat deployment can be as stressful to military spouses as the deployment itself. This study used the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions to examine whether personal resources (adaptive coping, maladaptive coping, and resilience) mediate the relationship between positive emotions and depressive symptoms in Army wives (N = 252) following the homecoming of a deployed active-duty service member. Using path analysis, after controlling for demographic variables and marital satisfaction, positive emotions were related to all 3 personal resources (positively to adaptive coping and resilience, negatively to maladaptive coping). In turn, adaptive coping and resilience were related to fewer depressive symptoms and maladaptive coping to greater depressive symptoms. The direct path between positive emotions and depressive symptoms was nonsignificant, suggesting complete mediation. The final model accounted for 54% of the total variance in depressive symptoms. Results support the important role that positive emotions play in decreasing depressive symptoms in this high-risk population.

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