Mindfulness Relates to Decreased Depressive Symptoms Via Enhancement of Self-Insight

Abstract

Self-insight or clarity of understanding of one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is suggested to play a key role in psychological treatments of depression. Mindfulness is considered as a promising factor to enhance self-insight since it is a prerequisite to gaining clearer self-understanding. Regardless of the theoretical/hypothetical links between self-insight, mindfulness, and depressive symptoms, their temporal or causal associations have not been examined thoroughly. Furthermore, as mindfulness is a five-factor construct, it is important to clarify which factor(s) of mindfulness is/are especially associated with increased self-insight. In the present study, we conducted a three-wave longitudinal survey on Japanese undergraduate students (n = 148, men = 106, women = 42, mean age = 19.24 years, SD = 1.67 years) to examine the prospective effect of mindfulness on self-insight and that of self-insight on depressive symptoms. The results of structural equation modeling revealed a significant indirect effect of mindfulness, leading to decreased depressive symptoms via increased self-insight. A follow-up multiple regression analysis identified two of the five factors of mindfulness (i.e., describe and act with awareness) as significant predictors of future increase in self-insight. The findings of the present study indicated that self-insight could be improved through mindfulness, leading to a reduction in depressive symptoms.

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Funding

This study was funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (DC1-15J03908, 17H02641).

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Authors

Contributions

MN designed the study, collected and analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript. KT contributed to the data analysis and writing of the manuscript. YT contributed to designing the study and revising the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Miho Nakajima.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study obtained IRB approval from University of Tokyo, Japan.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Nakajima, M., Takano, K. & Tanno, Y. Mindfulness Relates to Decreased Depressive Symptoms Via Enhancement of Self-Insight. Mindfulness 10, 894–902 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-1049-2

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Keywords

  • Self-insight
  • Mindfulness
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Longitudinal research