Self-esteem and depression

Dr Sacrifice Chirisa Mental Health Matters
Most people feel bad about themselves from time to time. Feelings of low self-esteem may be triggered by:

Being treated poorly by someone else recently or in the past

By a person’s own judgments of him or herself.

This is normal. However, low self-esteem is a constant companion for too many people, especially those who experience:

Depression

Anxiety

Phobias

Psychosis

Delusional thinking

Having an illness

Having a disability

If you are one of those people, you may go through life feeling bad about yourself needlessly. Low self-esteem keeps you from enjoying life, doing the things you want to do, and working toward personal goals.

You have a right to feel good about yourself.

However, it can be very difficult to feel good about yourself when you are under the stress of having symptoms that are hard to manage, when you are dealing with a disability, when you are having a difficult time, or when others are treating you badly.

At these times, it is easy to be drawn into a downward spiral of lower and lower self-esteem. For instance, you may begin feeling bad about yourself when someone insults you, you are under a lot of pressure at work, or you are having a difficult time getting along with someone in your family.

Then you begin to give yourself negative self-talk, like “I’m no good”. That may make you feel so bad about yourself that you do something to hurt yourself or someone else, such as getting drunk or yelling at your children.

Before you begin to consider strategies and activities to help raise your self-esteem, it is important to remember that low self-esteem may be due to depression. Low self-esteem is a symptom of depression. To make things even more complicated, depression may be a symptom of some other ill- ness.

Have you felt sad consistently for several weeks but don’t know why you are feeling so sad, i.e. nothing terribly bad has happened, or maybe something bad has happened but you haven’t been able to get rid of the feelings of sad- ness?

Is this accompanied by other changes, like wanting to eat all the time or having no appetite, wanting to sleep all the time or waking up very early and not being able to get back to sleep?

If you answered yes to either question, you may be depressed. If that is the case, there are two things you should consider:

See your psychiatrist for examination to determine the cause of your depression and to discuss treatment choices.

Do some things that will help you to feel better right away like:

Eating well,

Getting plenty of exercise and outdoor light,

Spending time with good friends, and

Doing fun things like going to a movie,

Painting a picture,

Playing a musical instrument, or

Reading a good book.

It’s key for every one to feel good about themselves for good mental health.

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