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To examine the relationship between self-esteem and psychiatric disorders in adolescents.
Seventy-six adolescents (mean age: 16.02 years; range: 12-20) treated in an inpatient unit and presenting with DSM-IV psychotic disorder, depressive disorder, anxious disorder, anorexia nervosa, personality disorder, or conduct disorder were compared with a control group of 119 adolescents drawn from a normal population. All the subjects were assessed with the French translation of the Coopersmith self-esteem inventory (SEI).
Self-esteem was significantly higher in the control than in the clinical population (P = 0.0001). Female patients showed significantly lower SEI scores than male patients. Self-esteem increased significantly after 12 weeks in patients with a first psychotic episode who responded successfully to antipsychotic drug treatment. In the clinical group, a history of suicide attempts and sexual abuse was associated with significantly lower SEI scores. Lack of boy- or girlfriend, dropping out of school, and social withdrawal were also associated with lower self-esteem.
The presence of a psychiatric disorder in adolescents is associated with decreased self-esteem. This decrease in self-esteem varies according to the psychiatric disorder. Appropriate treatment can enhance self-esteem in adolescent patients.
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