Body attitude, body satisfaction and body awareness in a clinical group of depressed patients: An observational study on the associations with depression severity and the influence of treatment

M. Scheffers*, M. A. J. van Duijn, M. Beldman, R. J. Bosscher, J. T. van Busschbach, R. A. Schoevers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Apart from changes in mood and cognition, depressive disorders are also characterized by changes in body experience, changes that largely influence daily functioning and aggravate distress. In order to gain more insight into this important issue, three domains of body experience - body attitude, body satisfaction and body awareness - and their associations with symptom severity of depression were studied pre- and post-treatment in a clinical sample of depressed patients in a multidisciplinary setting.

Methods: Body attitude (Dresden Body Image Questionnaire), body satisfaction (Body Cathexis Scale), body awareness (Somatic Awareness Questionnaire) and severity of depressive symptoms (Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology) were measured. Differences between pre-treatment and post-treatment scores were studied with paired t-tests. Associations between body experience and depression were analysed with Pearson correlations and partial correlations.

Results: At the start of treatment, patients scored significantly lower than a healthy comparison sample on body attitude and body satisfaction, but not on body awareness. After treatment, depression scores decreased with large effect sizes, scores for body attitude and body satisfaction increased with medium effect sizes and body awareness scores increased slightly. Medium pre-treatment and strong post-treatment associations were found between depression severity and body attitude and between depression severity and body satisfaction.

Limitations: The design does not allow to draw causal conclusions. Because of the multidisciplinary treatment no information is available on the specific contribution of interventions targeting body experience.

Conclusions: The study provides evidence for medium to strong associations in clinically depressed patients between body attitude, body satisfaction and depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-28
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date19-Aug-2018
Publication statusPublished - 1-Jan-2019


  • Body attitude
  • Body satisfaction
  • Body awareness
  • Body experience
  • Depression severity
  • MOOD

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