Paper Title

Sex differences in self-compassion: Do they influence mental illness?

Location

Room 222, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Start Date

March 2016

End Date

March 2016

Keywords

self-compassion, mental health, anxiety, depression, college students, sex differences

Abstract

Approximately 10-12% of college students meet the criteria for a mood or anxiety disorder in the prior year (Blanco et al., 2008). Self-compassion, i.e., being open to your suffering (Neff, 2003), has been associated with lower anxiety (Van Dam et al., 2011) and depression (Leary et al., 2007). Women have higher rates of anxiety (McLean et al., 2011) and depression (Eaton et al., 2011), however it is unclear whether there are gender differences for self-compassion and for how self-compassion relates to mental illness. We assessed childhood anxiety and depression, recent anxiety (Spielberger, 1983) and depression (Radloff, 1977), and self-compassion (Neff, 2001) among undergraduates (N=365, M=19 years, 12% African American, 73% Caucasian). The three positive subscales (Self-kindness, Common Humanity, Mindfulness) and three negative subscales (Self-judgment, Isolation, Overidentification) correlated in expected directions with anxiety and depression in the total sample. Women reported more recent anxiety and reported less Mindfulness, more Self-judgment, Isolation, and Overidentification). Surprisingly, men had stronger correlations between self-compassion and mental illness. This is the first report of sex differences for self-compassion, and the first exploration of how self-compassion relates to mental illness differently for men and women. We will discuss limitations and implications.

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Mar 31st, 2:00 PM Mar 31st, 3:15 PM

Sex differences in self-compassion: Do they influence mental illness?

Room 222, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Approximately 10-12% of college students meet the criteria for a mood or anxiety disorder in the prior year (Blanco et al., 2008). Self-compassion, i.e., being open to your suffering (Neff, 2003), has been associated with lower anxiety (Van Dam et al., 2011) and depression (Leary et al., 2007). Women have higher rates of anxiety (McLean et al., 2011) and depression (Eaton et al., 2011), however it is unclear whether there are gender differences for self-compassion and for how self-compassion relates to mental illness. We assessed childhood anxiety and depression, recent anxiety (Spielberger, 1983) and depression (Radloff, 1977), and self-compassion (Neff, 2001) among undergraduates (N=365, M=19 years, 12% African American, 73% Caucasian). The three positive subscales (Self-kindness, Common Humanity, Mindfulness) and three negative subscales (Self-judgment, Isolation, Overidentification) correlated in expected directions with anxiety and depression in the total sample. Women reported more recent anxiety and reported less Mindfulness, more Self-judgment, Isolation, and Overidentification). Surprisingly, men had stronger correlations between self-compassion and mental illness. This is the first report of sex differences for self-compassion, and the first exploration of how self-compassion relates to mental illness differently for men and women. We will discuss limitations and implications.