Both self-esteem and depression are thought to work on a sort of continuum, or scale, ranging from high to low self-esteem, and no symptoms to debilitating depressive symptoms.
Similarities between Low Self-Esteem and Depression
Low self-esteem and depression share many of the same signs and symptoms, including:
- Reckless behavior
- Sexual risk-taking
- Substance use and abuse
- Social withdrawal and avoidance
- Academic decline
- Aggressive behavior (anger, violence)
- Difficulty with interpersonal relationships
Differences between Low Self-Esteem and Depression
Despite the obvious similarities between self-esteem and depression, research supports the view that they are, in fact, separate and different concepts.
In a review of studies, researchers found identifiable differences between self-esteem and depression. They reported that self-esteem remains fairly stable, or unchanged, over a lifetime; while depression is naturally unstable, or constantly changing, from day-to-day and year-to-year.
Despite the similarities, it is more likely that low self-esteem is a risk factor for depression in children, rather than that they are the same concepts, the researchers concluded.
Preventing Depression in Children
While a child with low self-esteem may be at risk for a depressive episode, it does not necessarily mean she is currently depressed. This key finding gives you a unique opportunity to seek early preventative treatment for your child. Preventative treatments have been shown to be effective in reducing depressive symptoms in children at-risk for depression.
Jonathon D. Brown. The Self. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1998
Linda J. Koenig, PhD; Lynda S. Doll, PhD; Ann O'Leary, PhD; and Willo Pequegnat, PhD. From Child Sexual Abuse to Adult Sexual Risk: Trauma, Revictimization, and Intervention. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2003.
Ulrich Orth, Richard W. Robins, Brent W. Roberts. Low Self-Esteem Prospectively Predicts Depression in Adolescence and Young Adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2008; 95(3): 695-708.