Treating the Fight Within
In recent years, there has been an increase number in self-destructive and aggressive behaviors in adolescent that have participated in a study regarding low self-esteem or negative self-image which can lead to depression. According to the World Health Organization, “depression is the third leading cause of illness and disability among adolescents, and suicide is the third leading cause of death in older adolescents (15–19 years). Violence, poverty, humiliation and feeling devalued can increase the risk of developing mental health problems.”
Self-esteem is the overall sense of knowing your self-worth. Self-image is how you perceive yourself on the outside. Some people believe that having a low self-esteem or negative self-image is caused from having a chemical imbalance in the brain or a hormonal imbalance in females and think medication may solve the issue. These may be plausible explanation; however, it also involves the physical surroundings of the adolescent that influence how they view themselves. There must be something in their life that negatively affects them enough to see themselves in a negative way. Perhaps they are being neglected, abused, and feel they have no one to turn to. Maybe they turn to social media to fill a void, but it only makes them feel worse. It is crucial for adolescents to have positive self-esteem and self-image of themselves to shape who they will become as adults. Having a low self-esteem and self-image will lead to self-destruction. We should become more active in a supportive role or provide therapy instead of medicating those with low self-esteem or who perceive a negative image of themselves because medication could lead to further issues due to the side effects it may cause.
Too many adolescents are being treated with medication because of their low self-esteem or negative self-image, though we should be treating them with a more hands on approach such as providing a better support system or possibly therapy. Your self-esteem is shaped by relationships, experiences and by what you think of yourself. Having a positive self-esteem will promote mental stability. The feelings of low-self-esteem or negative-self-image is sometimes a result of being treated poorly by someone else. “Studies indicate that low self-esteem in adolescent is associated with a range of negative outcomes, including poorer mental and physical health, decreased economics prospects, and increased levels of criminal behavior” (Schwartz, 18). 80% of children who 10 years old are afraid of being fat. Those that suffer from low self-esteem or a negative self-image feel bad about themselves and typically need help to overcome this mental illness. It’s unfortunate that so many are quick to go to the dr. and get a prescription for antidepressants to try to fix the problem. When in fact, all you’re doing is masking the underlying issue. Not to mention, there is always a risk of harmful side-effects when taking any kind of medications which usually come with a warning label. Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, irritability, sleep disturbance, nightmares, psychosis, and seizures; this may seem like horrible side effects to have, but those are only a few of the side effects that can occur due to antidepressants. There are also warnings on all antidepressants that warn about use in children and adolescents because the medication can increase the risk of suicidal thinking, and suicidal behavior in children and adolescents with depression and other mental disorders. “Research has linked negative self-image with a number of problem behaviors and psychiatric symptoms in adolescence” (Di Blasi, 74). Because of these studies, anyone considering the use of antidepressant in a child or adolescent should weigh their options. They should consider seeking other forms of treatment such as therapy, outreach programs or other types of support groups.
Instead of medicating the adolescent and possibly making this issue worse, parents or loved ones need to provide more encouragement to them, such as support and/or therapy especially to those with a low self-esteem or negative self-image because having the support and talking about it may help recognize what triggers the negative feelings. According to Shen’s study there are more adolescent girls than boys experience low self-esteem (qtd. in Shen, 118). The results of the study could be because of the hormones that come with a female adolescent maturing. Female adolescents tend to develop at an earlier age than males causing them to become more insecure about themselves which is why we need to make sure we always provide support. Shen quotes “Adolescent girls are particularly at high risk for developing mental health. They seem to be more vulnerable than boys to negative body image, body dissatisfaction, the likelihood of developing an eating disorder, and internalizing problems such as low self-esteem and depression.” (118). Research show that self-esteem will decline in girls during the early to late adolescence. Seven in ten girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members. Therefore, we must implement prevention and treatment that will encourage self-esteem when they become middle-school aged. The location or manner of the encouragement is not of importance, what is important is that it is positive encouragement, full of support, and praise. Although, some individuals believe that too much encouragement or praise may cause the adolescent to become “big headed” or “conceded” for a lack of better words. Providing the adolescent with positive support will lead them to believing in them self and gaining a higher self-esteem. Encouraging and praising them will help boost their moral. In a study done by Bahreini (6) low parental care was a contributing factor of low self-esteem and depression in adolescents. His study was based on 482 adolescents (246 females and 236 males) that took a series if valid and reliable questionnaires. During the study it was concluded that “Optimum parental behavior is characterized by the behavior through which adolescents get a feeling of freedom, love, and protection” (Bahreini,6). With that being said, participating in a supportive environment will help get to the underlying issue and will help the individual overcome the negative feelings they have. “Self-image plays an important role in every stage of development and is particularly important during adolescence, a time when individuals extensively reorganize their self and relationships” (Di Blasi, 75). Having a support system from your parents or loved ones and/or being treated with therapy is a better solution to the individual who may overcome their low self-esteem given the fact that you will always have that solution in place should you have a “bad” day. It’s unfortunate, but with medication your body must adjust to it with time.
Treatment with therapy instead of medication is extensive. There are a variety of different forms of therapy, support systems, mentoring and outreach programs that can be used as treatment for someone with low self-esteem or negative self-image in place of medication. “School and organized leisure-time activities may be suitable arenas for interventions directed toward identifying and building on supportive and accepting relationships with peers that may protect against the negative effects of difficulties in other relationships” (Birkeland,79). The adolescent may have problems at home and cannot discuss their issues with a family member. That is when you need to reach out to the community for help. Counselors at the local school could assist the adolescent by providing the support they may be lacking at home. The teachers can offer praise and encouragement that is beneficial in developing a higher self-esteem. Most school districts have alternative learning education centers that could assist with the one on one support the individual may need. Therapy doesn’t have to be sitting and telling someone all your problems. There are times when it is not economically feasible to seek a therapist because insurance won’t pay, if that is the case there are alternative forms of therapy such as speaking with the school administration, or church ministry. Many of the community-based mentoring programs are free or charge very little and is based solely on your income. There are over three million youth in the United States that participate in a formal mentoring relationship which volunteers are matched with the adolescents. Sarah Schwartz states in her article that “community-based mentoring programs exist across the country, such as Big Brothers Big Sister, which serves thousands of youth nationwide, to local programs funded by local businesses or local organizations.” There are many different types group therapies that may assist someone with low self-esteem or negative self-image. Joining a sports team or the band in school could act as therapy for someone who needs a boost of self-confidence. The adolescent can make new friends which is always a positive thing. Being accepted into friendship groups are important in solidifying adolescents social and personal identity. Not to mention, peers will help the adolescent if they do not have support family at home. Their friends can be the ones to provide what is lacking at home. “Self-esteem and self-confidence are factors found to be improved with the application of music used as a therapeutic tool” (qtd. Sharma, 55). Sharma provides us with a form of therapy using music. He says that music therapy is based on the associate and cognitive powers of the mind. Music therapy is considered “one of the expressive therapies which are of late interpreted as complementary or integrative medicine” (Sharma, 55). There are several studies that have examined the outcomes of mentoring relationships on the adolescents’ self-esteem. “Longitude research on natural mentoring relationships indicate that adolescents who report having an important non-parental adult in their lives tend to report greater psychological well-being, including self-esteem and life satisfaction.” (Schwartz, 18). Therapy comes in different forms and should be used for treatment of low self-esteem or negative self-image in place of medication for treatment.
The facts show that there are many ways to treat adolescents with low-self-esteem or negative self-image. The mind can be a powerful thing and to an adolescent it can cause harm if they are not in a good place. Providing a strong support system with encouragement or different types of therapy such as mentoring programs will help build a strong foundation for the adolescent. Parents, relatives, school administration or even peers must reach out to the individual that has low self-esteem or sees themselves in a negative. It is utmost important to discuss the issue with that person to see if it is possible to help the adolescent overcome their low-self-esteem. Parents need to pay special attention to their adolescent as they are the ones who can encourage the most. Parents need to be sure to tell the adolescent when they are doing something positive. Adolescents need words of engouement every day. Often there are times when no one is there to provide this type of feedback with the adolescent. Sadly, they may fall into a deep depression and may attempt suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of deaths in the United States according to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Based on data about suicides in 16 National Violent Death Reporting System states in 2010, 33.4% of suicide decedents tested positive for alcohol, 23.8% for antidepressants, and 20.0% for opiates, including heroin and prescription pain killers” (CDC) The adolescent should not be treated with antidepressants for this reason. The fact of the matter is the pills can lead to worse situations even death. We need to encourage the adolescent to focus on their strengths. We can do so by pointing out all the things they can do and have accomplished. If we continue to help the adolescent by providing encouragement and support, they will realize their self-worth. They will gain a higher self-esteem. The outcomes of an adolescent that suffers from low self-esteem or negative self-image of themselves will have brighter future if we chose to provide a better support system as an alternative to medicine.
Bahreini, M., et al. “The Effects of Parental Bonding on Depression and Self Esteem in Adolescence.” Journal of Jahrom University of Medical Sciences, vol. 10, no. 1, Spring2012, pp. 6-10. EBSCOhost, 0-search.ebscohost.com.libcat.sanjac.edu/login.aspx?direct=true;db=ccm;AN=104100783;site=eds-live.
Birkeland, Marianne, et al. “Peer Acceptance Protects Global Self-Esteem from Negative Effects of Low Closeness to Parents during Adolescence and Early Adulthood.” Journal of Youth ; Adolescence, vol. 43, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 70-80. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s10964-013-9929-1
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Online. (2013, 2011) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC (producer). Available from http://www.cdc.gov/injury/ wisqars/index.html.
Di Blasi, Maria, et al. “The Relationship between Self-Image and Social Anxiety in Adolescence.” Child ; Adolescent Mental Health, vol. 20, no. 2, May 2015, pp. 74-80. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/camh.12071.
Katarzyna, Sitnik-Warchulska. “Self-Image and Suicidal and Violent Behaviours of Adolescent Girls.” Health Psychology Report, Vol 4, Iss 4, Pp 303-314 (2016), no. 4, 2016, p. 303. EBSCOhost, doi:10.5114/hpr.2016.59911.EBSCOhost, doi:10.5114/hpr.2016.59911.
Schwartz, Sarah E.O., et al. “Mentoring relationships and adolescent self-esteem.” The Prevention Researcher, vol. 19, no. 2, 2012, p. 17+. Health Reference Center Academic, http://0-link.galegroup.com.libcat.sanjac.edu/apps/doc/A288428960/HRCA?u=txshracd2544;sid=HRCA;xid=f668816f. Accessed 15 Apr. 2018.
Sharma, Mamta and Tanmeet Jagdev. “Use of Music Therapy for Enhancing Self-Esteem among Academically Stressed Adolescents.” Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, vol. 27, no. 1, June 2012, pp. 53-64. EBSCOhost, 0-search.ebscohost.com.libcat.sanjac.edu/login.aspx?direct=true;db=a9h;AN=82055470;site=eds-live.
Shen, Y and SA Armstrong. “Impact of Group Sandtray Therapy on the Self-Esteem of Young Adolescent Girls.” Journal for Specialists in Group Work, vol. 33, no. 2, June 2008, pp. 118-137. EBSCOhost, 0-search.ebscohost.com.libcat.sanjac.edu/login.aspx?direct=true;db=ccm;AN=105810459;site=eds-live.
Walker, Daniel J., et al. “Quality of Life in Children and Adolescents with Bipolar I Depression Treated with Olanzapine/Fluoxetine Combination.” Child ; Adolescent Psychiatry ; Mental Health, vol. 11, 12 July 2017, pp. 1-11. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1186/s13034-017-0170-7.