Centrality of Self-Criticism in Depression and Anxiety Experienced by Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Short-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Golan Shahar, Raz Bauminger, Rüdiger Zwerenz, Elmar Brähler, Manfred Beutel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Depression and anxiety are prevalent in women suffering from breast cancer. However, the determinants of depression and anxiety in this population are not well known, particularly in the context of psychotherapy. Drawing from Blatt’s theory, we examined the role of Depressive Personality Vulnerability (DPV) in depression and anxiety experienced in female sufferers of breast cancer treated for depression as part of a Randomized Clinical Trial. Methods: Seventy-eight patients were treated by Short-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and 79 patients by Treatment as Usual. Assessments were conducted pre-treatment, at termination, and at six-month follow-up. Main outcomes were the depression and anxiety subscales of the Hospital Depression and Anxiety Scale. Predictors were pre-treatment dependency, self-criticism, and self-efficacy, assessed via the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire. Analyses targeted associations of these dimensions with baseline levels, main effects on pretreatment-termination and pretreatment-follow-up changes in depression and anxiety, and DPV by treatment interactions. Results: Consistent with our hypotheses, self-criticism–implicated in previous research as a serious dimension of vulnerability to psychopathology–predicted elevated levels, as well as pretreatment-follow-up changes, in both depression and anxiety. However, self-criticism also augmented the effect of STPP (compared with TAU) on depression in the pretreatment-termination period. Conclusions: These findings highlight the centrality of self-criticism for both risk and resilience processes in breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychiatry (New York)
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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