Self-esteem Mediates the Relationship between Sexual Trauma and Depression and Anxiety in Dutch Women
Linden, Annelies van der
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Even though some research is available on depression, anxiety and self-esteem after sexual trauma, the role of self-esteem in the association between sexual trauma, depression and anxiety has not been addressed. Understanding these interrelationships will help to provide victims of sexual trauma with adequate care. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the mediating effect of self-esteem in the relationship between sexual trauma and depression and anxiety symptoms. Data on self-esteem, depression symptoms, anxiety symptoms and life events were collected from 345 Dutch undergraduate students. Based on their reported life events, they were grouped into one of the three conditions: sexual trauma (n = 122), non-sexual trauma (n = 153) and no trauma (n = 70). The results showed that self-esteem mediated the relationship between sexual trauma and depression and anxiety symptoms. Those who experienced sexual trauma reported lower self-esteem and higher depression scores than those who did not. Individuals who experienced sexual trauma reported higher anxiety scores than those who experienced no sexual trauma. Higher self-esteem was associated with lower anxiety and depression scores. Thus, integrating an intervention aimed to increase self-esteem into the treatment of survivors of sexual trauma may contribute to the prevention of depression and anxiety.
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