Examining risk and resilience factors for depression: The role of self-criticism and self-compassion

Cogn Emot. 2015;29(8):1496-504. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2014.992394. Epub 2014 Dec 17.


Whereas self-criticism has been proposed as an important risk factor for major depressive disorder (MDD), self-compassion has been suggested as a resilience factor that protects against the development and maintenance of depressive episodes. This study aimed to test the hypothesis that frequent self-criticism and low habitual self-compassion are related to concurrent depression and to vulnerability to depression by comparing groups of currently, remitted and never depressed individuals. As expected, both currently and remitted depressed individuals reported higher levels of self-criticism and lower self-compassion than never depressed controls. Individual differences in self-criticism and self-compassion were related to depression status above and beyond additional potential correlates of MDD (i.e., perfectionistic beliefs and cognitions, rumination and overall adaptive emotion regulation). The findings provide support for the idea that increased self-criticism and decreased self-compassion place certain individuals at increased risk for experiencing depression repeatedly or chronically over the course of their lives.

Keywords: Depression; Self-compassion; Self-criticism; Vulnerability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Remission Induction
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Young Adult