When it comes to your child, depression and self-esteem may sometimes be issues of concern.
The Relationship Between Depression and Self-Esteem
While there are many different theories for why children experience depression, one school of thought suggests that the answer lies within a person. Self-esteem, or how a person feels about herself, is thought to play an important role in depression. In fact, low self-esteem and depression share similarities, like self-consciousness and risk-taking behaviors.
Additionally, symptoms of depression in children may include:
In some children, these symptoms may lead to negative behavior and subsequently confirm a child's negative beliefs, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Self-Relevant Risk Factors for Depression
It is generally believed that various biological, psychological, and environmental factors combine to put a child at risk for depression. Negative life events and stress are important environmental factors that may precede a depressive episode in some children prone to depression.
After a negative life event, like the loss of a loved one or a significant disappointment, many children will bounce back without cause for concern. Other children may have temporary mild depressive symptoms, and some may unfortunately experience a clinically significant depressive episode.
For some children, certain self-relevant factors may put them at a higher risk for developing depression after experiencing a negative event:
- A changing, or labile, sense of self-esteem
- Limited number of social identities, or social roles (e.g., athlete, girlfriend)
- Certain personality types (Social-Dependent or Achievement-Dependent)
- Learned helplessness
It is important to remember that many factors likely contribute to the cause of depression in children. It is clear, though, that the development of a positive sense of self and self-esteem are an essential part of a child's well-being, and should be fostered by families through love, acceptance, empowerment, and support.
Despite a loving and stable environment, children may still struggle with low self-esteem and/or depression. It is important that parents not blame themselves, but instead seek professional advice for treatment. Depression in children is a serious medical condition that always requires treatment.
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