How to Overcome Depression & Negative Self Image

According to Psychology Associates of Westfield and Cranford, low self-esteem puts a person at risk for depression. Ironically, the depression itself can lower your self image even further until you are trapped in a negative cycle. A poor self image can make you feel guilty and unworthy of happiness, which reinforces the depression. Fortunately, you can break out of this cycle with strategies to improve your self esteem and depressive symptoms.

Step 1

Reassure yourself that you’re capable of improving your self image and overcoming depression. Psychology Information Online says that depression is often characterized by a belief that you can’t overcome your problems and that you are not deserving of doing so. Admit that your negative self image is a problem. Remind yourself that you can learn new skills, and that you deserve to beat depression.

Step 2

Evaluate your negative self image with an objective reality test. Make a list of all the reasons why you think are not a good and worthy person. Next, make a list of all the reasons why you are indeed good and worthy. Go back through each list, adding a factual example to support each item. If you cannot come up with an example, the item is not valid. You will most likely discover that your negative list is packed with invalid items, while your positive list proves your worthiness and good traits.

Step 3

Use positive self talk to fight your depression and negative self image. Use your list of positives to come up with statements that support high self esteem and encourage you to fight your depressive symptoms. For example, one of the positive items might be “I am strong,” and you might have backed it up by listing factual examples of hardships that you made it through. When you’re feeling down, tell yourself “I am a strong person. I know it because I made it through my father’s death. I am going to use that strength to motivate myself now.”

Step 4

Stop negative automatic thoughts and replace them with positive alternatives. Psychology Information Online says that automatic thoughts are self-statements that pop out as the default in certain situations. Often they are not valid, but they keep repeating themselves and reinforcing low self-esteem and depression. When you recognize one popping up, envision a bright red stop light. Halt the automatic thought and consciously replace it with a positive one. For example, if you’re facing a challenge, the automatic thought might be, “I’d better back off because I never do anything right.” Stop it and replace it with, “What can I do to take control in this situation?”