Self-Warmth, Self-Coldness, and Depressive Symptoms Among Sexual Minority Adults

Caroline J. Skipper, Suzanne McLaren

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Depression is more prevalent among sexual minority adults than heterosexual adults. Whilst research has shown self-compassion is related to lower levels of depressive symptoms, few studies have focused on sexual minority adults. Furthermore, few studies have examined the relationship between the positive (self-warmth) and negative (self-coldness) components of self-compassion and depressive symptoms. This study aimed to investigate whether self-warmth and self-coldness were associated with depressive symptoms among sexual minority adults and whether these relations were moderated by gender and sexual orientation. An international sample of 439 sexual minority women aged 18 to 69 years (M = 30.21, SD = 10.70) and 391 sexual minority men aged 18 to 71 years (M = 32.20, SD = 11.74) completed the Center for Epidemiology-Depression Scale and the Self-Compassion Scale. Results indicated both self-warmth and self-coldness were significantly associated with depressive symptoms, however, self-coldness explained more unique variance (12%) than self-warmth (1%). Higher levels of self-warmth were significantly associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms and the association was not conditional on gender or sexual orientation. Higher levels of self-coldness were associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. This association was conditional on sexual orientation but not gender. The association was stronger for bisexual adults than monosexual adults. Interventions such as compassion-focused therapy that target self-coldness among sexual minority adults may be beneficial for reducing depressive symptoms, particularly bisexual adults.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Bisexuality
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


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