Self-esteem key to preventing stress in old age

Pedro Simos

Challenges to self-esteem are usually associated with teenage angst. But, it appears that for our elders, self-esteem is even more critical . New research shows that self-esteem is even more important for older adults to maintain and improve upon as they enter the twilight years. Boosting self-esteem can prevent or diminish potential health threats associated with older adulthood.

Decrease self-esteem, increase cortisol

The new research was led by psychology researchers Sarah Liu and Carsten Wrosch from Concordia University’s Centre for Research in Human Development. Previous research by this team on self-esteem examined changes within an individual overtime. They found that as self-esteem decreased, cortisol – the stress hormone – increased. The relationship was even more prevalent in people with a history of depression.

Preventing health problems in the aged

The four year study included 147 adults aged 60 and older. They measured their cortisol levels, self-esteem, stress, and depression symptoms every two years. Results showed that maintaining or improving self-esteem was associated with prevention of health problems. “Because self-esteem is associated with psychological well-being and physical health, raising self-esteem would be an ideal way to help prevent health problems later in life,” explained Liu. It may not be realistic to tell our older adults “go out and make more friends, or simply enhance their feelings of self-worth,” said Liu, but the reality is, it improves quality of life. “Improving self-esteem provides real health benefits in seniors. The ultimate solution may be to prevent self-esteem from declining.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Psychoneuroendocrinology
Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simoes at


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