Depression and low self-confidence are sisters (or brothers, if you prefer) that often live together inside your psyche. Where you are depressed, you feel bad about yourself, and these negative thought processes damage your self-esteem. When you have low self-esteem, you can become depressed. And so, this vicious cycle keeps growing, dragging you further down a spiral of despair.
Are You Depressed?
First, let's look at some of the signs of depression. If you have depression you may not feel "sad" all the time, although feeling sad or tearful is frequently part of the condition. You can also feel irritated by other people, unmotivated to do your work (or anything else). Depression is often coupled with physical symptoms such as poor concentration, lack of sleep or sleeping too much, lack of appetite or over-eating, poor memory and lethargy. Depression causes you to stop doing things you previously enjoyed. You may have negative thoughts (nobody likes me; I'm not good enough).
It is these distorted thought processes that can be altered by improving your self-confidence, which will - over time - help to chip away at your feelings of depression.
How Can I Improve My Self-Confidence?
Would you say to a friend whose date had cancelled on them, "It's because nobody likes you?" or to a friend who didn't get the job they'd gone for "It's because you're not good enough?" Well, why are you so much harder on yourself than you are on your friend? Try being your own friend. Consciously replace those negative, maladaptive thoughts with positive ones, "So my date cancelled. They don't know what a great catch I am!", "I didn't get this job, but I'm smart and capable and I will get one in future."
Write a Journal
Don't keep your thoughts bottled-up. It makes them loom larger than they need to be. By keeping a journal, you can write down your negative thoughts and excise them from your head. Just remember to try writing one positive thought or one good thing about your life for every negative thought. Your pets, your parents, your physical health…challenge yourself to think of something powerful.
Surround yourself with only the most positive and supportive people you know. You should be surrounded by friends and family, who support and promote your strengths, not lambast you for your weaknesses. If someone in your circle starts breaking your tentative steps towards confidence with criticism, you know they're someone you no longer need in your life.
Find something you enjoy and do it
Write out a list of things that you used to enjoy doing, that you've stopped doing since you became depressed. Then go out and pursue your passions. Having something in your life that you enjoy will give you greater purpose and motivation. Doing something you're good at is also a great natural mood-booster.
If you're really struggling with self-esteem and depression, you might consider trying therapy for depression. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) works by supporting you to overcome your negative thought processes and re-establish healthier ones in their place. Some people with depression and low self-esteem issues may not need it, but for the people who do, it can be an effective treatment.
Raising your self-confidence takes time, but these practical hints will help you start the process to recover your self-esteem and start to fight your depression.