Self-Criticism and Depressive Symptoms: Mediating Role of Self-Compassion

Omega (Westport). 2019 Dec;80(2):202-223. doi: 10.1177/0030222817729609. Epub 2017 Sep 8.


Self-compassion is gaining recognition as a resilience factor with implications for positive mental health. This study investigated the role of self-compassion in alleviating the effect of self-criticism on depressive symptoms. Participants were 147 urban, low-income African Americans with a recent suicide attempt. They were administered measures of self-criticism, depressive symptoms, and self-compassion. Results from this cross-sectional investigation showed that self-criticism was positively associated with depressive symptoms and negatively associated with self-compassion, and self-compassion was negatively associated with depressive symptoms. Bootstrapping analysis revealed that self-compassion mediated the self-criticism-depressive symptoms link, suggesting that self-compassion ameliorates the negative impact of self-criticism on depressive symptoms. Our findings suggest that low-income African Americans with recent suicide attempt histories may benefit from interventions that focus on enhancing self-compassion. These results also highlight self-compassion as a positive trait with promise to improve people's quality of life and suggest that self-compassion-focused interventions are consistent with a positive psychology framework.

Keywords: African Americans; depressive symptoms; self-compassion; self-criticism; suicide.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Self-Assessment
  • Shame
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Young Adult