A growing body of evidence suggests that self-esteem is in some way connected to anxiety and depression. But the nature of the relationship amongst the three has not been entirely clear. Like the chicken and egg syndrome, it is not known whether poor self-esteem is a risk factor contributing to anxiety and depression, or rather if these illnesses themselves cause a person to develop low self-esteem.
Researcher Julia Friederike Sowislo of Switzerland’s University of Basel sought to better understand the complex relationship that self-esteem has with anxiety and depression. She examined a total of 95 studies on the topics of anxiety and depression to learn more.
What Sowislo uncovered was that self-esteem had a very different link to depression than it did to anxiety. Research showed that low self-esteem had a much more pronounced effect on depression than vice versa. However, when it came to analysis of how self-esteem and anxiety interacted, there was an equal relationship. Poor self-esteem was just as likely to produce heightened levels of anxiety as elevated anxiety was to result in low self-esteem.
According to Sowislo, there are several explanations for why bad self-esteem increases the risk for depression. Those with poor self-esteem, for instance, may have a tendency to constantly focus on the negative. Another possibility is that individuals experiencing low self-esteem may become depressed because of an unmet need for reassurance. Sowislo also says that depression can raise the potential for low self-esteem as depressed individuals tend to look for negative feedback, a factor contributing to one’s outlook.
According to a recent article, the results of the study underscore the importance of confronting issues of self-esteem when helping individuals with depression. Depression and anxiety are common mental illnesses that are treated with a high rate of success. With help from mental health professionals at Family Guidance Center, those living with these mental health problems can get the help they need to live a full and meaningful life.