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Self-compassion helps sexual minority young adults experiencing discrimination

Self-compassion significantly moderated the relationship between discrimination and depression for the full sample. Further examination revealed that self-compassion significantly moderated the relationship between discrimination and depression among sexual minority young adults, but not among heterosexual young adults.

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Self-compassion may be a protective coping resource against depression and anxiety symptoms for young adults experiencing discrimination.

This is according to a study – “Discrimination, Depression, and Anxiety Among Sexual Minority and Heterosexual Young Adults: The Role of Self-Compassion” by Emily C. Helminen, Jillian R. Scheer, Tory L. Ash, Amanda K. Haik, and Joshua C. Felver – that appeared in LGBT Health.

For this study, undergraduate college students (N = 251; 189 heterosexual and 62 sexual minority individuals) completed online self-report questionnaires related to discrimination experiences, depression, anxiety, and self-compassion. Two moderated moderation analyses were conducted to (1) identify whether self-compassion buffered the relationship between discrimination and depression and between discrimination and anxiety and (2) whether this buffering effect varied by sexual identity (i.e. heterosexual vs. sexual minority).

The researchers found that self-compassion significantly moderated the relationship between discrimination and depression for the full sample. Further examination revealed that self-compassion significantly moderated the relationship between discrimination and depression among sexual minority young adults (SMYAs), but not among heterosexual young adults.

SMYAs with higher self-compassion reported fewer depression symptoms than SMYAs with lower self-compassion, even when reporting more frequent experiences of discrimination. Self-compassion did not moderate the relationship between discrimination and anxiety for the full sample, nor did this relationship vary by sexual identity.

“Self-compassion may be a particularly important coping resource to protect against depression symptoms among SMYAs experiencing discrimination,” stressed the researchers. “These findings provide an impetus for SMYA-tailored intervention and prevention efforts that incorporate cultivating self-compassion as a protective coping resource to buffer deleterious effects of discrimination.”

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