Does your child have low self-esteem or depression?

Given the association between low self-esteem and depression risk, people sometimes question whether depression and self-esteem are similar concepts. Although low self-esteem is a risk factor for depression, it does not mean that the two are the same.

Both self-esteem and depression are considered to work in a certain continuum or range, from high self-esteem to low self-esteem, from no depressive symptoms to debilitating depressive symptoms.


Self-esteem is the way you see yourself-defects, positive characteristics, etc. It is developed from your experiences, thoughts, feelings and relationships. If your child has low self-esteem, they will usually think that they are very flawed, rarely consider their own ideas and opinions, and worry that they are not good enough. They may also find it difficult to accept positive feedback and think that others are better than them.of

Depression is more than just feeling sad. It consumes your energy, makes daily activities difficult, and interferes with eating and sleeping patterns. Psychotherapy and/or medication can effectively treat depression. There are many types of depression, including major depression, persistent depression (PDD), psychotic depression, postpartum depression (PPD), and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).of


Low self-esteem and depression have many of the same signs and symptoms, including:

  • Academic decline
  • Aggressive behavior (such as anger and violence)
  • Interpersonal difficulties
  • Reckless behavior
  • conscious
  • Sexual adventure
  • Social withdrawal and avoidance
  • Substance use
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Although there are obvious similarities between low self-esteem and depression, research supports the view that they are actually separate and distinct concepts. According to experts, low self-esteem is more likely to be a risk factor for childhood depression, rather than static.of

Another difference is that some children will try to make up for their low self-esteem by pleasing and being accepted by others. In these situations, children may perform well and perform well academically.

Most children with severe depression experience significant changes in behavior and academic performance, and lose interest in social activities and appearance.

Warning signs of self-esteem problems include:

  • Avoid new things, don’t seize opportunities
  • Blame one’s own mistakes on others
  • Unable to accept compliments, showing complicated feelings of anxiety or stress
  • Difficulty in making friends
  • Fear of failure or embarrassment
  • Feel unloved and unneeded
  • Low level of motivation and interest
  • Negative self-talk and comparison with others
  • Inability to handle normal levels of frustration

If your teen has depression, they may experience all these signs of low self-esteem as well as the following red flags:of

  • anger
  • Feel tired despite getting enough sleep
  • Unable to fall asleep (or sleep too much)
  • Irritability (lasting more than two weeks)
  • Loss of appetite (or increased appetite)
  • Physical discomfort (such as stomach pain and headache)
  • Have suicidal thoughts, talk about suicide, or attempt suicide
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Improve children’s self-esteem

Parents and caregivers can take some small but important steps to help their children build a healthy sense of self-esteem:of

  • Be a good listener. Even if you don’t like what your kids tell you, try to remember how you felt at their age and respond to how you want adults to respond to you. Putting yourself in your child’s perspective can help you maintain your point of view and encourage them to bring questions, questions, or just need to vent.
  • Be kind. Compared with adults, children respond worse to anger, criticism, and hostility. Choose your words carefully.
  • Encourage communication. Talking to them about what is happening in their lives can show your child that they are valuable, interesting and worth your time.
  • Give them choices. Making your own decisions can increase confidence, but too many decisions can be overwhelming, so proceed with caution.
  • Let them know that you love them. They seem to respond best to hugs, words of encouragement, expressions of gratitude, home cooking, or time alone with you? Figure out what makes them feel most loved, and make sure to express love often.
  • Support and encourage their strengths. If they are good at basketball, then become their biggest cheerleader. If they show a talent for music, give them the guitar lessons they have always wanted.

Get advice from the VigorTip Mind podcast

Hosted by Amy Morin, the editor-in-chief and therapist of LCSW, this episode of The VigorTip Mind podcast shares how to be kind to yourself.

Prevent and treat depression

Children with low self-esteem may be at risk of depression, but their concerns about self-esteem do not necessarily mean that they are currently depressed. For both self-esteem and depression, early recognition is extremely important, especially for children. Correct diagnosis and preventive treatment can reduce the severity of depression in children.of

If your child shows signs of low self-esteem or depression, please consult a pediatrician or other mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan.

Although many parents are afraid of severe medication, treatment for children’s depression usually involves talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help them identify and change unhealthy thinking patterns that lead to low self-esteem and depression.