Emotion Regulation as a Mediator of Self-Compassion and Depressive Symptoms in Recurrent Depression

A. Myfanwy Bakker, Daniel W. Cox, Anita M. Hubley, Rhea L. Owens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A key challenge for people who struggle with major depressive disorder (MDD) is the prevention of recurrence, given that the risk of recurrence increases significantly with each episode. Recently, it has been suggested that low levels of self-compassion may be an enduring risk factor for depression recurrence; however, surprisingly little research has examined the pathways through which self-compassion and recurrent depressive symptoms are linked. Thus, our study examined how self-compassion may be protective in the recurrence of depressive symptoms through four emotion regulation strategies associated with depression: brooding rumination, experiential avoidance, cognitive reappraisal, and acceptance. A sample of 100 participants with a history of recurrent depression were recruited using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Simple and multiple mediation analyses were conducted. Results from the simple mediation models indicated that higher levels of self-compassion were associated with lower depressive symptoms through brooding rumination, experiential avoidance, and acceptance, while cognitive reappraisal did not mediate the relation. The multiple mediation model revealed that brooding rumination was the only significant mediator, when controlling for other emotion regulation strategy variables. Theoretical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1169-1180
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in the form of a CGS-M Master’s Award awardedto the first author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Acceptance
  • Cognitive reappraisal
  • Depression
  • Emotion regulation
  • Experiential avoidance
  • Recurrent depression
  • Rumination
  • Self-compassion


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