Sense of Self and Depression, How do they Relate?

Ruminant thinking, negative dialogue, the feeling of emptiness and underestimation, sculpt each day that the foundations of low self-esteem, a fertile scenario for the shadow of depression to grow irremediably.

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The sense of self and depression have a very intimate relationship. The image we have of ourselves is defragmented during these psychological conditions, thus giving way to an evident low self-esteem. In addition, the mind does not stop investing time and energy in the concept of the self, weakening it even more through constant worry and negative internal dialogue.

Few clinical realities become as complex as depressions. No patient suffers in the same way. It is a multifactorial dimension, adverse and polyhedral, there is no doubt, but there are common factors that appear in a large part of the clinical cases evidencing a well-known enemy. One where our thoughts and the behavior of our mind make it bigger and more resistant to this presence.

In this way, something that reveals a work published just a few months ago is that the sense of self is a key component in this type of psychological disorders. It is so to the point that the way we perceive ourselves, we talk and treat ourselves, modifies our brain architecture.

For example, it has been possible to see through magnetic resonances that people with low self-esteem show a lower degree of gray matter in different brain areas. Even more, if this aspect of our personality is not improved, if this psychological strength is not worked on, depression can become more resistant and last for years. Let’s see more data below.

“There are wounds that are never seen in the body that are deeper and more painful than anyone who bleeds.”

-Laurell K. Hamilton-

The sense of self and depression: building the prison of suffering

When a person is depressed, they do not live on the same stage as all those around them. Because depression is, above all, isolation. It is a disconnection from the environment and, in turn, a progressive withdrawal towards that internal universe where you end up being captive of a body that hurts and a mind that never rests.

This is undoubtedly a first aspect that we must consider: the hyperactivity evidenced by certain areas of our brain and, specifically, those related to our self-consciousness, reflection and self-esteem. The sense of self and depression are intimately linked because the thought does not cease to violate our identity, to weaken us with criticism, with memories of yesterday, with errors, losses suffered and a whole range of boycotts.

Stress as a prelude to depression and negative internal dialogue

The University of Calgary, in Canada, recently published a study carried out by Dr. Dencel Kopala. This work highlights the great erosion generated by negative internal dialogue when it comes to shaping a depression. Also, it is important to know that this erosion of the sense of self arises especially when we go through periods of high stress.

By not managing these tensions and problems, the mind gets used to nurturing a constant pattern of negativity, where little by little it costs a lot to maintain good self-esteem, optimism or hope. Almost without our noticing, our ‘I’ will have been completely weakened and, what is more striking, various brain areas will also have been altered.

Low self-esteem and its relationship with gray matter

Dr. Johannes Klakl, from the University of Salzburg, Austria, did an interesting study in 2014 where he demonstrated something very striking. People with low self-esteem showed a lower level of gray matter. This fact made these patients have a greater vulnerability when it comes to deriving depressive disorders.

There was therefore a clear difficulty to manage emotions, to plan and make more firm and creative decisions when leaving such states of suffering.

The importance of internal narrative

The sense of self and depression reinforce each other. So much so that a low self-esteem and a stressful situation can cause us to derive in this psychological disorder. But, in turn, the depression itself will also make us boycott even more the figure of that sadly fragmented ‘I’.

On the other hand, from any type of therapy there is an aspect that is always clear: the way in which we narrate ourselves is the key to recovery. That is, the way we speak, describe and perceive ourselves favors or weakens our psychological health.

The sense of self deserves dignity and worth; It is vital therefore that we take care of these aspects to strengthen it, to give it moorings and prevent it from resulting in a depression.

A healthy (and exciting) connection with what surrounds us

Get out of your interior and connect with the here and now. The idea is to stop being prisoners of that mind that feeds again and again the same thought patterns. One way to do this is to connect with what surrounds us, with new stimuli, with other sensations and experiences that bring novelty, emotions and curiosity to a brain that is too focused on anguish.

The hygiene of a compassionate and non-destructive internal dialogue

The sense of self and depression are linked because the way we speak weakens our self-esteem and, from there, the abyss of that black hole opens up. We must learn therefore to speak to us in a respectful way. The internal dialogue must always be impeccable, compassionate and resilient.

If we do not treat ourselves as we deserve, no one will. Self-esteem and a healthy self-esteem are undoubtedly the most valuable defenses to prevent a large part of mood disorders. Let’s work on it and never hesitate to ask for professional help when we need it.