Self-esteem of 8-14-year-old children with psychiatric disorders: Disorder- and gender-specific effects.


In this study, we investigated the relation between global and domain-specific self-esteem and psychiatric disorders. A sample of 577 children aged 8-14 years was recruited via psychiatric hospitals and from the general population. Parents were given a diagnostic interview to assess children’s psychiatric diagnoses (current/ past). Parents and children completed questionnaires on child symptoms. Children completed a questionnaire on global and domain-specific self-esteem (scales: scholastic competence, social acceptance, athletic performance and physical appearance, global self-esteem). Self-esteem of children with current psychiatric disorders was lower than that of healthy controls (etap2 between 0.01 and 0.08). Concerning scholastic competence, social acceptance and global self-esteem, children with past psychiatric disorders scored also lower than healthy controls. Different current psychiatric disorders showed specific but small effects on dimensions of self-esteem (beta between -0.08 and 0.19). Moreover, we found a gender x group interaction, indicating that girls with depressive and adjustment disorders were specifically impaired in their global self-esteem and perception of their physical appearance. Findings might help clinicians to focus on particular domains of self-esteem during the diagnostic process and to define adequate treatment goals.