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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Self-compassion : an adaptive way to reduce recurrent depression symptoms through emotion regulation Bakker, A. Myfanwy


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is often a recurring disorder, with multiple major depressive episodes (MDEs) experienced over a lifetime. A key challenge for those who struggle with depression is the prevention of recurrence, given that the risk of recurrence increases significantly with each episode. Difficulty with emotion regulation has consistently been found to predict both depression symptoms and MDD, and is proposed to be an important factor in both the development and chronicity of this disorder (Atherton, Nevels, & Moore, 2015; Aldao, Nolen-Hoeksema, & Schweizer, 2010). Recently, self-compassion has been presented as a robust protective factor in depression (Diedrich, Grant, Hofmann, Hiller, & Berking, 2014; Ehret, Joormann, & Berking, 2015; Krieger, Berger, & Hotlforth, 2016). Furthermore, it has been suggested that low levels of self-compassion may be an enduring risk factor for depression recurrence (Ehret et al., 2015). This study examined how self-compassion may be protective in the recurrence of depression symptoms through specific emotion regulation strategies associated with depression: rumination, experiential avoidance, acceptance, and cognitive reappraisal. Surprisingly little research has examined the pathways through which self-compassion and depression symptoms are linked. A sample of 105 participants with a history of recurrent depression were recruited using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Simple and multiple mediation analyses (Preacher & Hayes, 2008) were conducted. Results from the simple mediation models indicated that higher levels of self-compassion were associated with lower depression symptoms through rumination, experiential avoidance, and acceptance. Surprisingly, cognitive reappraisal did not mediate the relation between self-compassion and recurrent depression symptoms. The multiple mediation model revealed that rumination was the only significant mediator, when controlling for other emotion regulation strategy variables. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.

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