Disentangling the unique associations of self-compassion and mindfulness with adolescent depression has been an empirical challenge. Taking a symptom-level approach to adolescent depression using network analysis can address some of the most common conceptual and psychometric challenges in this area. Under this network analysis framework, some symptoms are more central, or predictive of the presence of other symptoms, than others. When evaluating associations between adolescent depressive symptoms and protective factors like self-compassion and mindfulness, stronger unique associations with more central symptoms may therefore be of particular interest. In this study, we estimate a mixed graphical model network containing individual depressive symptoms, mindfulness, and self-compassion in 1,055 adolescents. Self-compassion had stronger unique associations with more central symptoms (self-compassion edge-weight -0.43, mindfulness edge-weight -0.22) while mindfulness had stronger unique associations with all of the depressive symptoms (self-compassion edge-weight -0.92, mindfulness edge- weight -1.68). Self-compassion and mindfulness provided additive, unique associations to some symptoms, but there were multiple symptoms that were uniquely associated only with mindfulness or only with self-compassion. These findings suggest that self-compassion and mindfulness both can play uniquely important roles in adolescent depression, but their effectiveness as protective factors may depend on the individual symptoms the adolescent is at risk for or currently experiencing.
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