The Effect of Self-Compassion on the Development of Depression Symptoms in a Non-clinical Sample
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- Raes, F. Mindfulness (2011) 2: 33. doi:10.1007/s12671-011-0040-y
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Self-compassion, or the ability to kindly accept oneself while suffering, is a topic of significant and growing scientific interest. Past research has shown, for example, that self-compassion is associated with less concurrent depression. So far, however, it remained untested whether self-compassion also prospectively predicts depression symptoms. Three hundred and forty-seven first-year psychology students (303 women; 44 men), ages 17–36, completed measures of self-compassion and depression symptoms at two assessments separated by a 5-month period. Results showed that self-compasion significantly predicted changes in depression symptoms, such that higher levels of self-compassion at baseline were significantly associated with greater reductions and/or smaller increases in such symptoms over the 5-month interval. These findings are consistent with the idea that self-compassion respresents a potentially important protective factor for emotional problems such as depression. Additional analyses further suggest that self-compassion is a relatively stable trait-like characteristic.