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Self-compassion can shield perfectionist from getting depressed, finds study

04-23 | DTC Team

Self-compassion can shield perfectionist from getting depressed, finds study

Some people are very particular about minute details as they strive to achieve the “perfect” outcomes. Commonly known as perfectionists, such individuals make extra efforts to ensure that even the smallest thing is dealt with care. However, when not able to meet their self-created standards, they often feel sad and become upset, so much that many of them even develop depression.

Now, a recent Australian study has revealed that responding to one’s failures with kindness and self-compassion can help neutralize the negative effects of perfectionism at any age. For the study published in the journal PLoS ONE in February 2018, researchers sent questionnaires to more than 1,000 adults and teens. Among the participants, there were 515 adults (70 percent of them were women) aged between 18 and 72 years, and 541 adolescents studying in grades seven to 10. Among adolescent participants, 80 percent were girls.

The participants were assessed for their levels of perfectionism, depression and self-compassion.  Subsequently, the researchers found a strong relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and depression among both adolescents and adults. However, the same was absent in people with high levels of self-compassion.

Self-compassion as moderator between perfectionism and depression

Although the researchers could identify a correlation between perfectionism, depression and self-compassion, they were unclear about the direction and influence of the effects. While they were sure that having self-compassion was a good thing, they were clueless if it was causing anything in return. “Our study contributes to the growing recognition that in embracing our mistakes, failures and vulnerabilities, i.e., being self-compassionate, we become more resilient,” said study’s lead author Madeline Ferrari, a clinical psychologist at Australian Catholic University in Strathfield, New South Wales. Interestingly, the study observed that the female participants exhibited more depressive symptoms compared to their male counterparts. It also found that the male participants showed higher levels of self-compassion.

Additionally, the study also cited an earlier research by University of Texas professor Kristin Neff, which proposed three basic components of self-compassion: self-kindness (as opposed to self-criticism), mindfulness, and common humanity. The current study suggested that the signs of perfectionism in children should not cause worry to parents, who should encourage their wards to inculcate and induce self-compassion in themselves. The findings of the study also opened up opportunities to develop treatment for depression through methods like compassion-focused therapy or mindfulness meditation.

Seeking treatment for depression

Characterized by symptoms like persistent feeling of sadness, lack of energy, hopelessness and despair, depression is one of the common mental conditions across the world. The condition can affect anybody, irrespective of age, gender, class or community. As depression is a complicated condition, it is often misunderstood. It is commonly confused with sadness, which is a natural emotion and goes away with time. On the contrary, depression is a serious mental disorder that can lead to suicidal thoughts and tendencies. In the U.S., an estimated 16.2 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2016.

It is important to seek proper and timely medical treatment to recover from depression that can be treated with medication, therapies or a combination of both depending on the severity and duration of the condition. If you or a loved one is suffering from depression or experiencing the symptoms, seek help from the Colorado Depression Helpline of Colorado. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 427-5668 or chat online with our expert to know more about one of the best depression rehab centers near you. Our certified representatives can also help you connect with the finest depression treatment facility in your vicinity.


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