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Link between depression and academic self-esteem in gifted children

PubMed: Link between depression and academic self-esteem in gifted children

By Bénony H, et al.


INTRODUCTION: Studies of the psychology of gifted children frequently refer to their relatively immature affective development in terms of their intellectual capacities and the relational difficulties they experience with regard to their peers, teachers, close acquaintances and sometimes their parents. From a psychopathological viewpoint, various types of problem have been observed such as depressive symptoms, motor instability coupled with hyperactivity, attentional deficits, impulsivity and a fall in self-esteem.

OBJECTIVE: In this study, we wished to verify the links between self-esteem and psychopathological symptoms in these children.

RESULTS: The comparison of 23 gifted children (GC) and 23 controls matched on age, sex and school grade revealed that the scores for academic self-esteem, total self-esteem and lie-scale were significantly lower than those observed in the control group (p<0.006, p=0.03, p<0.0001 respectively) and that the depression scores were significantly higher in the gifted children (p=0.021). Significant correlations are only observed in the group of gifted children. The correlation analyses reveal that the lower the general self-esteem, academic self-esteem and total self-esteem values had fallen, the higher the depression (r=- 0.59, r=- 0.67 and r=- 0.76 respectively), hyperactivity (r=- 0.47, r=- 0.82 et r=- 0.59) and total psychopathology (r=- 0.56, r=- 0.67 et r=- 0.75) scores were. Similarly, the lower the general and total self-esteem scores, the higher the aggression scores (r=- 0.56 and r=- 0.68 respectively). Academic self-esteem was the only value to be negatively correlated with communication disorders (r=- 0.79) and somatization symptoms (r=- 0.49). Finally, social self-esteem, family self-esteem and the lie scale were not correlated with any CBCL variable. The regression analyses indicate that academic self-esteem is the variable that explains the depression scores.

DISCUSSION: The gifted children in our study therefore manifested a lack of self-esteem, and in particular a lack of academic self-esteem, coupled with depressive symptoms. For Coopersmith (1984), self-esteem is a function of experienced events in the various sectors in question, while Gibello (1992) sees a link between inhibition or academic disinvestment and everything that may generate anxiety and/or depression in the subject. We can hypothesize that the difficulties experienced by these children derive, at least in part, from their specific characteristics, namely their internal and social dysschynchronism (Terrassier, 1981). Among its other effects, this dyssynchronism leads to a school life that is often difficult or even chaotic, resulting in a general level of self-esteem, and more particularly an academic self-esteem, that is lower than the mean. These considerations might then, in their turn, generate psychopathological symptoms such as depression or hyperactivity (Revol et al., 2002) which have repercussions that affect the effectiveness of the children’s school work. This study suggests the need to verify whether similar results are observed in gifted children who do not attend special classes and children who have not yet been identified as gifted. Furthermore, our results indicate that these children are liable to a specific vulnerability in the emotional and behavioral domains that needs to be emphasized. They stress the need for early preventive measures to combat the emotional and behavioral difficulties experienced by gifted children and emphasize the importance of continuing to conduct this type of study in order to explain and specify the origin of these difficulties.”

Find the paper here: PubMed: Link between depression and academic self-esteem in gifted children

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