A new paper published in Frontiers in Psychology explores the distinctions between depression and suffering. Authors Richard G. Cowden, Dorota Weziak-Bialowolska, Eileen McNeely and Tyler J. VanderWeele used a cross-sectional sample of flight attendants (n = 4,652), and tested for further empirical evidence distinguishing depression and suffering. Correlations with 15 indices covering several dimensions of well-being (i.e., physical health, emotional well-being, psychological well-being, character strengths, social well-being, financial/material well-being) indicated that associations with worse well-being were mostly stronger for depression than suffering.
There was a large positive correlation between depression and suffering, but the authors also found evidence of notable non-concurrent depression and suffering in the sample. After dividing participants into four groups that varied based on severity of depression and suffering, regression analyses showed higher levels of well-being among those with both none-mild depression and none-mild suffering compared to those with moderate-severe depression, moderate-severe suffering, or both.
All indices of well-being were lowest among the group of participants with moderate-severe depression and moderate-severe suffering. In addition to providing further evidence supporting a distinction between depression and suffering, their findings suggest that concurrent depression and suffering may be more disruptive to well-being than when either is present alone.
Read the full paper.