Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 813–822 | Cite as

Self-Esteem Instability in Current, Remitted, Recovered, and Comorbid Depression and Anxiety

  • Lonneke A. van TuijlEmail author
  • Klaske A. Glashouwer
  • Claudi L. H. Bockting
  • Brenda W. J. H. Penninx
  • Peter J. de Jong
Original Article


Self-esteem has not only been observed to be generally low in depression and anxiety, but also unstable. Few studies have looked at unstable self-esteem in clinical samples. The present study compared self-reported self-esteem instability across current depression (n = 60), anxiety (n = 111), and comorbid depression/anxiety (n = 71), remitted depression (n = 41), and anxiety (n = 29), recovered depression (n = 136) and anxiety (n = 98), and a never clinically depressed or anxious comparison group (n = 382). The comparison group had more stable self-esteem than all groups. Once controlling for overall levels of self-esteem, differences with current depression or anxiety, remitted depression, and recovered depression or anxiety remained, but disappeared for the comorbid group. The current findings are consistent with the view that not only enduring low self-esteem per se, but also high self-esteem reactivity may contribute to the aetiology of affective disorders.


Self-esteem Instability Anxiety Depression Comorbid 



The funding was supported by Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (Grant No.: 451-15-026).


The infrastructure for the NESDA study ( is funded through the Geestkracht program of the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw, Grant Number 10-000-1002) and financial contributions by participating universities and mental health care organizations (VU University Medical Center, GGZ inGeest, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden University, GGZ Rivierduinen, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Lentis, GGZ Friesland, GGZ Drenthe, Rob Giel Onderzoekscentrum).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Lonneke A. van Tuijl, Klaske A. Glashouwer, Claudi L. H. Bockting, Brenda W. J. H. Penninx and Peter J. de Jong declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures followed were in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with animal subjects performed by the any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lonneke A. van Tuijl
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Klaske A. Glashouwer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Claudi L. H. Bockting
    • 1
    • 3
  • Brenda W. J. H. Penninx
    • 4
  • Peter J. de Jong
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Psychology and Experimental PsychopathologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Accare, Child and Adolescent PsychiatryCenter for Eating DisordersSmildeThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical CenterUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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