The relationship between self-compassion, internalized heterosexism and depressive symptoms among lesbian and bisexual women

Emma Brown-Beresford, Suzanne McLaren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Depression is prevalent among sexual minority women, with internalized heterosexism a risk factor. Whilst research has found self-compassion to provide protection against depressive symptoms, its six components are rarely examined individually. The current study aimed to investigate the protective function of self-compassion and its components among lesbian and bisexual women by testing a moderated-mediation model to assess whether self-compassion was indirectly related to depressive symptoms via internalized heterosexism and whether this effect was conditional upon sexual orientation. An international sample of 498 bisexual and 416 lesbian women aged 18 to 75 years completed an online survey consisting of the Self-Compassion Scale, Center for Epidemiological Studies – Depression Scale, and Lesbian Internalized Homophobia Scale – Short Form. Results found that bisexual women were less self-compassionate, held more internalized heterosexism, and had a higher severity of depressive symptoms compared to lesbian women. While self-compassion was directly related to lower levels of depressive symptoms and indirectly related via lower levels of internalized heterosexism, the effects were not conditional on sexual orientation. Findings suggest that despite differences in minority stress and depressive symptoms, self-compassion serves a similar protective function for lesbian and bisexual women. Increasing bisexual and lesbian women’s self-compassion in therapy has the potential to provide an effective point of psychological intervention in the treatment of depressive symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-115
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Bisexuality
Volume22
Issue number1
Early online date2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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