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To be scared or scared to be: existential anxiety as a mediator between meaning experience and depression

Pellens, Heidi; Dezutter, Jessie; Luyten, Patrick; Vanhooren, Siebrecht; (2024) To be scared or scared to be: existential anxiety as a mediator between meaning experience and depression. Journal of Humanistic Psychology (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Difficulty in the experience of meaning has been both theoretically and empirically linked with depression. The present cross-sectional study first aimed to replicate the association between difficulty in meaning experience and depression in a sample of 77 psychotherapists and counsellors (77.1% female; M age: 49; SD age = 12.25). Secondly, this study wanted to extend the body of research findings by investigating whether existential anxiety, and focusing manner, i.e. the ability to attend to one’s bodily felt experiences, mediated the relation between meaning experience and the severity of depression. Surprisingly, meaning experience did not show a significant association with severity of depression. Furthermore, existential anxiety mediated the association between meaning experience and severity of depression. Focusing manner showed no significant mediating role in the relationship between meaning experience and severity of depression. These findings suggest that existential anxiety might be an important underlying mechanism in depressive disorder. Addressing the anxiety evoked by existential questions in the patient’s life might be important in the psychotherapeutic treatment of depression. Future prospective research is needed to further entangle the relationship between meaning experience, depression, focusing, and existential anxiety.

Type: Article
Title: To be scared or scared to be: existential anxiety as a mediator between meaning experience and depression
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/journal/journal-h...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10159423
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