The relationship of self-compassion and depression: Cross-lagged panel analyses in depressed patients after outpatient therapy

Krieger, Tobias; Berger, Thomas; Grosse Holtforth, Martin (2016). The relationship of self-compassion and depression: Cross-lagged panel analyses in depressed patients after outpatient therapy. Journal of Affective Disorders, 202, pp. 39-45. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jad.2016.05.032

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BACKGROUND: Previous cross-sectional studies suggest that self-compassion and depressive symptoms are consistently negatively associated. Although it is often implicitly assumed that (a lack of) self-compassion precedes depressive symptoms, so far no study has tested whether (lack of) self-compassion is a cause or a consequence of depressive symptoms, or both. METHOD: To examine such reciprocal effects, we used data of 125 depressed outpatients after a time limited cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. We assessed self-compassion and depressive symptoms via self-report measures and the presence of a major depressive episode directly after therapy, as well as 6 and 12 months later. RESULTS: Cross-lagged panel analyses indicated that (lack of) self-compassion significantly predicted subsequent depressive symptoms while controlling for autoregressive effects, whereas depressive symptoms did not predict subsequent levels of self-compassion. This was also the case for the relationship between self-compassion and the presence of a major depressive episode. The same patterns also occurred when we separately tested the reciprocal effects for two composite sub-measures of either positive or negative facets of self-compassion. LIMITATIONS: Causality cannot be inferred from our results. Depressive symptoms and self-compassion could still be causally unrelated, and a third variable could account for their negative association. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support the notions that (a lack of) self-compassion could serve as a vulnerability factor for depression and that cultivating self-compassion may deserve a focus in depression prevention programs or treatments.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology > Centre of Competence for Psychosomatic Medicine
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy

UniBE Contributor:

Krieger, Tobias; Berger, Thomas and grosse Holtforth, Martin


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health






[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Thomas Berger

Date Deposited:

09 Aug 2016 08:19

Last Modified:

25 May 2017 02:30

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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