Shame and Depressive Symptoms: Self-compassion and Contingent Self-worth as Mediators?

J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 2018 Dec;25(4):408-419. doi: 10.1007/s10880-018-9548-9.


Research has identified the experience of shame as a relevant predictor of depressive symptoms. Building upon resilience theory, this is the first study to investigate if self-compassion and/or contingent self-worth (i.e., family support and God's love) mediate the link between shame and depressive symptoms. Participants were 109 African Americans, within the age range of 18 and 64, who sought service following a suicide attempt from a public hospital that serves mostly low-income patients. Findings suggest that shame was related to depressive symptoms through self-compassion but not through contingent self-worth, underscoring the significant role that self-compassion plays in ameliorating the aggravating effect of shame on depressive symptoms. Results highlight the value of incorporating self-compassion training into interventions for suicidal African Americans in an effort to reduce the impact of shame on their depressive symptoms and ultimately their suicidal behavior and as a result enhance their capacity for resilience.

Keywords: African Americans; Contingent self-worth; Depressive symptoms; Self-compassion; Shame.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Self Concept*
  • Shame*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult