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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday's Psychology Trivia: Which Comes First? Depression or Low Self Esteem?


Thought for the Day: it's Thursday, making it time for some Psychology Trivia. All week I have been posting what I called a mini-series of articles on the importance of de-cluttering your brain of negative self talk (If you missed the earlier posts, check out: Motivational Monday:Cleaning Out The Closets In Your Mind, Tuesday's Psychology Tips: How To Stop Negative Thoughts & Improve Self Esteem, and Wednesday's Words of Wisdom:The Main Reason People Cling To Self Doubt And Negative Self Images).  I decided to complete the series with today's trivia question which is a chicken or the egg type question:
Which comes first?
      a) Depression then low self esteem, or
      b) Low self esteem then depression
Psychologists have wondered whether depression leads to low self esteem or negative view of oneself leads to depression for years. Since they are clearly correlated, it is hard to prove causality. Do you think you know the answer? Read on to see if you are right. As with all the psychology trivia questions that I share here, answer is far from trivial. 


Recently, researchers did a comprehensive meta-analysis of multiple longitudinal studies*  on the topic.  They found  that a) low self esteem leads to depression. Finding that low self esteem puts an individual at risk of developing depression is a very important discovery. It has hopeful, far reaching implications for preventative interventions which can be implemented by parents and educators and school systems.

If low self esteem puts people at risk of developing depression, shouldn't we be teaching parents more about building self esteem in their children? In all levels of education from preschool to college, couldn't we be screening for signs of low self esteem. When a child exhibits low self esteem, why not offer them training in thought stopping and positive thought replacing techniques? If years of low self esteem impact on how one views the world, is this not an opportunity to prevent the rise in depression and it's crippling impact on those suffering from the disorder?


What do you think? Talk to your local board of education, PTA and legislators about implementing comprehensive programs. Screening for signs of low self esteem and doing something about it seems more important than the standardized tests our schools are so focused on. Paying attention to this may also help reduce bullying since it may be related to becoming either a bully or s target of a bully. If children feel better about themselves, not only will they feel more confident in their ability to succeed but they will also do better in their school work.

*Sowislo, J., & Orth, U. (2013). Does low self-esteem predict depression and anxiety? A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 139(1), 213-240. doi:10.1037/a0028931
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