The objectives of this study were to explore whether avoidance and activation mediate the relationship between self-compassion and depressive symptoms. Research investigating these mechanisms may help identify potential intervention targets for preventing depression.
A cross-sectional survey design was employed involving 242 non-clinical Australian adults (188 females, 54 males) ranging from 18 to 76 years (M = 24.99, SD = 9.07). Participants completed online Self-Compassion Scale, Behavioral Activation for Depression Scale, Reward Probability Index, and Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scales.
Avoidance and activation were found to be significant mediators of the relationship between self-compassion and depressive symptoms. This indicates that self-compassion may influence depressive symptoms through the mechanisms suggested to operate in a behavioral model of depression, specifically avoidance and activation.
These findings linking self-compassion to activation and avoidance with depressive symptoms are promising. Further research with larger, representative, non-clinical and clinical populations, as well as the collection of prospective data, could help establish the causality of these links.