Self Compassion for Depression

Self compassion for depression

Depression is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be debilitating, making it difficult to function in daily life and impacting one’s relationships, work, and overall well-being. While there are various treatments for depression, including medication and therapy, there is one approach that has gained significant attention in recent years – self-compassion. Kristin Neff’s 2011 book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, became a best seller and a 10th anniversary edition has been published.

Self-compassion is the practice of being kind and understanding towards oneself in moments of pain, suffering, and failure. It involves treating oneself with the same kindness, concern, and support that one would offer to a dear friend in similar circumstances. Self-compassion has been found to have several benefits for those with depression, but it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Here, we will explore how self-compassion can help with depression and where it might not be as effective.

How Self-Compassion Can Help with Depression

Reduces self-criticism: One of the hallmarks of depression is the harsh self-criticism and negative self-talk that individuals experience. Self-compassion can help counteract this by encouraging individuals to be kinder and more understanding towards themselves. It can reduce self-criticism and improve self-esteem, leading to a more positive outlook on life.

Increases emotional regulation: Depression often involves intense negative emotions such as sadness, shame, and guilt. Self-compassion can help individuals regulate these emotions by encouraging them to acknowledge and accept their feelings without judgment. This can reduce the intensity of negative emotions and promote emotional well-being.

Encourages self-care: Depression can make it challenging to engage in self-care activities such as exercise, eating well, and getting enough sleep. Self-compassion can motivate individuals to take care of themselves by reminding them that they deserve to feel good and be healthy.

Increases resilience: Depression can make individuals feel helpless and hopeless, which can lead to a cycle of negative thinking and behavior. Self-compassion can help individuals develop resilience by promoting a more positive outlook and encouraging individuals to take actions that promote their well-being.

Where Self-Compassion Might Not Help with Depression

It is not a substitute for professional help: While self-compassion can be a helpful tool for managing depression, it is not a substitute for professional help. Depression is a complex condition that often requires the expertise of a mental health professional. Self-compassion can be used in conjunction with other treatments such as medication and therapy to improve outcomes.

It may not be effective for severe depression: Self-compassion can be a helpful tool for managing mild to moderate depression. However, for individuals with severe depression, self-compassion may not be enough to manage symptoms. In these cases, professional help may be necessary.

It may not address underlying causes of depression: Depression can have many underlying causes, including genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. While self-compassion can help manage symptoms, it may not address the root causes of depression. In these cases, professional help may be necessary to identify and address the underlying causes of depression.


In conclusion, self-compassion can be a helpful tool for managing depression, but it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It can help reduce self-criticism, increase emotional regulation, encourage self-care, and increase resilience. However, it is not a substitute for professional help, may not be effective for severe depression, and may not address underlying causes of depression. As with any mental health condition, it is essential to seek professional help when needed and to use self-care practices such as self-compassion in conjunction with other treatments.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health issue like depression, don’t suffer in silence. Book an appointment at the Centre for Clinical Psychology in Melbourne today by calling 03 9077 0122 or visiting Our team of experienced psychologists are here to help you overcome your challenges and improve your wellbeing.