Depression takes the color out of life and leaves a trail of grays in its wake. It can distort thinking, leading to decreased self-confidence, insecurity and self-loathing. Thoughts that would otherwise be considered ‘neutral’ can become negatively magnified and leave a low-hanging, ominous cloud hanging over the depressed person’s entire life.
The way in which low self-esteem and depression interrelate can seem like the proverbial “chicken and egg.” It is not, however a matter of “cause and effect,” but of relationship. And in this regard, low self-esteem is used as a possible symptom in the diagnosis of depression.
Research has shown a strong relationship between low self-esteem and depression, but not vice versa. In other words, low self-esteem is predictive of depression, but depression, while capable of impacting self-esteem, is not predictive of it.
Julia Friederike Sowislo and Ulrich Orth of the Department of Psychology at the University of Basel in Switzerland conducted a meta-analysis of studies on depression and self-esteem. Their “vulnerability model” predicted that a lower self-esteem increases the chance of seeing events in one’s life as reinforcing a negative sense of self.
In non-clinical terms, the person suffering from low self-esteem takes life events personally and negatively, and this dark perspective of life and self is a set-up for depression. Instead of trying to disprove a negative self-concept, the person actually seeks negative feedback to corroborate it. In this way, low self-esteem is a risk factor for depression.
What is the takeaway from this? How are low self-esteem and depression related, and how can healing one heal the other?
Remember that self-esteem is the measure of how you feel about yourself. It’s not a statement of confidence in what you can do, but a belief system of your very worth. Do you like yourself? Love yourself? Believe you have value and purpose in life?
The importance of cultivating and nurturing a healthy self-esteem from the very beginning of life cannot be overstated. And because of the demonstrated influence of self-esteem on the risk of depression, boosting self-esteem is the best way to protect mood and manage or overcome depression.
Here are some tips for increasing self-esteem:
Low self-esteem and depression may be difficult to distinguish when your whole world is seen through gray lenses. But it only makes sense that the colors with which you paint your sense of self will ultimately be the colors with which you paint your view of the world.
If you are struggling with self-esteem and/or depression, you do not have to navigate that darkness alone. There are compassionate care and guidance available to help you.
You can reach us here, we are here to help you.