A new study reveals that schizophrenia patients with unstable levels of self-esteem have a poorer quality of life than those with more stable self-esteem.
Furthermore, depression tends to lower self-esteem, and thus leads to further deterioration of other self-concepts and well-being.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that significantly affects cognition and often causes chronic problems with behavior and emotion. Along with a breakdown of thought processes, the disorder is also characterized by poor emotional responsiveness, paranoia, auditory hallucinations and delusions.
The disorder can affect nearly every area of a person’s life. People with schizophrenia exhibit both negative and positive emotions.
But it is the negative mood state that can lead to poor treatment outcomes and increase the risk of suicidal behavior.
To better understand how the concept of self and relative mood states affect treatment outcomes, graduate student Dafna Weinberg of the Department of Psychology at Ben-Gurion University in Israel evaluated 89 individuals being treated for schizophrenia, and examined how they were influenced by self-esteem, self-concept appraisal, and self-health appraisal.
Specifically, she looked at four areas of self-concept: negative symptoms, positive symptoms, depression and quality of life.
The participants were assessed at the beginning of the study period and then five days later to determine how stress affected the self-domains. Participants were examined again six weeks later.
The findings reveal that the patients with unstable levels of self-esteem had poorer qualities of life than those with more stable self-esteem. Those with a clear sense of self exhibited increases in positive effect and better overall qualities of life. This was especially evident when stress levels were low.
Upon further examination, Weinberg found that depression was a risk factor for low self-esteem and beliefs of illness.
Although the study period was relatively brief, Weinberg believes that this research, which is the first to explore all four domains of self in a sample of schizophrenic participants, highlights the significant risk factors that can lead to poor treatment outcomes.
“Findings clearly attest to a complex, risk/resilience role of the self-concept in the short-term course, and reveal undetected consequences of depressive symptoms in schizophrenia,” she said.