Discrimination, Depression, and Anxiety among Sexual Minority and Heterosexual Young Adults: The Role of Self-Compassion

Emily C. Helminen, Jillian R. Scheer, Tory L. Ash, Amanda K. Haik, Joshua C. Felver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: The objectives of this study were to examine whether self-compassion may be a protective coping resource against depression and anxiety symptoms for young adults experiencing discrimination and to explore the protective influence of self-compassion among sexual minority young adults (SMYAs) relative to heterosexual peers. Methods: 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). Results: 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 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. Conclusions: Self-compassion may be a particularly important coping resource to protect against depression symptoms among SMYAs experiencing discrimination. 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-323
Number of pages9
JournalLGBT Health
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2023

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • discrimination
  • self-compassion
  • sexual minority
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Urology

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