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An investigation of the role of acceptance as a moderator of the relationship between somatic distress and depression

30 September 2013


Depression is one of the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric conditions (Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002), and is associated with both significant impacts on individual well-being and functioning, and broader social and economic costs ("Depression Facts," 2001). Given the effectiveness of treatments for the disorder, such high costs are unnecessary. Somatic distress, which can include a variety of physical health symptoms, has been shown to increase the likelihood of developing depression (Cohen, Pine, Must, Kasen, & Brook, 1998). Within the field of mindfulness, research has demonstrated mindfulness based approaches to be effective in the treatment of depression (Piet & Hougaard, 2011). While this is accepted within the clinical world, the specific mechanisms that are of benefit are not clearly understood. One such mechanism, acceptance, has been shown in research to have a strong potential to impact both somatic distress and depression in individuals suffering from those issues (Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004; Shigaki, Glass, & Schopp, 2006). The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the role that acceptance played between somatic distress and depression. Two primary hypotheses were made including: 1) that somatic distress would be a positive predictor of depression, and 2) that acceptance would moderate the relationship between somatic distress and depression, such that somatic distress would be more strongly related to depression when acceptance is low than when acceptance is high. Results of this dissertation supported both hypotheses. The implications and limitations of these findings, as well as recommendations for future research, are discussed.


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