Chronic Depression and Improving Self-Esteem

Reader’s Question

What is the most effective and fastest way to build self esteem? I have been fighting depression and low self esteem for more than a decade. The effects have been paralyzing me in my many attempts to move ahead in my life. I feel bouts of hopelessness. Can you help… please?

Psychologist’s Reply

Chronic low self-esteem is often related to chronic moderate depression. Depression has symptoms that range from mild to severe (suicidal thoughts, crying spells, etc.). Millions of people live their lives with chronic moderate depression — just short of the crying-spells level. They have low self-esteem, social withdrawal, no joy in life, sleep problems, physical fatigue, etc. For this reason, increasing self-esteem must include decreasing depression. The fact that you feel paralyzed in life tells me you have experienced moderate depression for many years at this point.

You will need a multi-discipline approach to improve your self-esteem and life. First, I would seek a professional counselor/therapist who can help you identify areas of poor self-esteem. Second, I would research/read about depression. This website has information about depression, and I have written an article on depression on my website at Third, I would consider the use of an antidepressant medication. Our best results are obtained when medication and counseling are used in combination. Fourth, I would do an inventory of my life and lifestyle to identify issues that might be supporting my low self-esteem or increasing my misery. Counseling would be helpful in this regard, often helping develop a strategy to deal with stressors in your life. Lastly, I’d make some short, moderate, and long-term goals. A short-term goal may be getting out of the house more, visiting friends/relatives more, etc.

When we have chronic depression over a long time, we develop a “depression lifestyle” that actually helps continue the depression over time. Depressed folks shop at night to avoid crowds, get no exercise, take meds/booze to help them sleep, don’t talk much at work, etc. Changing your lifestyle to a “healthy” and energetic lifestyle is one of the long-term goals.

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