Does Low Self-Esteem Make One Vulnerable to Depression?
Our beliefs about ourselves often are in the form of statements and facts; however, they are actually only opinions. Based on our experiences in life, these messages give us a sense of the kind of person we are.1 If we have had an abundance of negative experiences, our beliefs about ourselves are likely to also be negative, which leads to low self-esteem.1 Over time, low self-esteem can cause the development of serious mental conditions, such as depression.1 However, suffering from depression can lead us to perceive our life experiences as negative, which could also lead to low self-esteem.1 A sort of chicken-and-egg problem, researchers still wonder which comes first: low self-esteem or depression.1
Researchers have tried to detangles the highly related concepts of self-esteem and depression through longitudinal research, where people are followed over a period of time.1 The University of Basel researchers Julia Sowislo and Ulrich Orth conducted a study on depression and contrasted the competing directions of self-esteem to depression and depression to self-esteem.1 Overwhelmingly, the findings supported the model that low self-esteem causes depression.1 It is true, in fact, that low self-esteem is a risk factor for depression; however, depression has not been found to significantly cause low self-esteem.1 As low self-esteem exists before depression, it will usually continue during depression.1
Therefore, improving a person’s self-esteem can help to protect them against developing a depressive disorder, as well as make them feel better if they are already diagnosed with one.1 Australian clinical psychologist and self-esteem specialist, Dr. Lars Madsen, states that self-esteem is a crucial factor in both the development and maintenance of depression.1 People who have low self-esteem try not to disprove their negative self-concept, but instead look to verify it by seeking negative feedback from people in their network.1 That is what they feel they deserve. They focus on their inadequacies, focus on the negative feedback given, and become more depressed.1 Also, their negative mood allows them to be perceived as more negative by others, leaving them feeling hurt and rejected.1
The best way to protect a positive mood is to find ways to boost your self-esteem, not tear it down. Everyone has strengths, and focusing on them, trying to further employ them, is a great way to build up your self-esteem. Surrounding yourself with positive people is also important. Negativity is contagious, and can’t be afforded.
 Venzin, E. (2014). Is Low Self-Esteem Making You Vulnerable to Depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/03/29/is-low-self-esteem-making-you-vulnerable-to-depression/