Is My Depression From Low Self-Confidence?
Updated: Oct 25, 2022
A Look Inward For Answers
The relationship between low self-esteem and depression can be murky, to say the least.
While depression itself can make you loathe your body and mind, a low self-image could be the culprit for depression in the first place.
It’s a vicious cycle - similar to the chicken and the egg - nobody is quite sure which comes first, but mental health experts everywhere can all agree on one thing: there's a strong link between depression and low self-esteem.
However, there are positives to this: when we’re able to pinpoint what’s going on we can work to fix it. Boosting your self-confidence can help heal your depression and repair your relationship with your inner self.
What Is Low Self Image?
Low self-esteem is characterized as feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, or a general feeling of being unloved.
Many people with a low self-image lack confidence in their own abilities and the things they can accomplish. This may prevent them from ever trying new things, or striving to succeed in the first place.
People that struggle with their low self-esteem have an inner voice telling them all day long that they’ll never be good enough, or that they should just give up. These people often end up being people pleasers or have a difficult time setting boundaries.
What Causes Low Self Image?
Having chronic low self-confidence issues can have an extremely damaging effect not only on your mental health but on most other areas of your life. From your social life, physical health, and career growth - the lies of your inner voice can hold you back from doing almost anything.
There are a few reasons low self-image may happen:
Childhood: If you had particularly harsh, cold, or critical parents growing up you may have spent years striving to please them with no acknowledgment. Internally you’ve harbored the idea that you’ll never be good enough for anyone if you aren’t good enough for your parents.
Academics: If you struggled in school whether from educational mismatch, difficult teachers, or undiagnosed learning disabilities you may have internalized feelings of unworthiness as you worked hard to get good grades with no success.
Relationships: Being in an abusive relationship whether mentally, physically, or emotionally, over time can contribute to feelings of inadequacy or poor self-esteem. One of the greatest tricks abusers will play on their victims is to instill the idea they’re worthless and deserve the pain they inflict.
Medical Conditions: Ongoing chronic pain, disability, or disease can contribute to feelings of low self-worth. Watching others live relatively ‘normal’ and healthy lives can cause you to look inwards for answers as to why you never were given that chance.
Mental Health: Anxiety, phobias, depression, trauma, bipolar disorder, and more can cause feelings of low self-worth. Many times those who struggle with their mental health are fully aware they do - yet can’t control it, leading them to become resentful of their own mind.
The Link Between Depression and Low Self Image
Do you find that when your depression takes a nosedive, so do your inner thoughts about yourself? This is because depression and self-esteem are linked at the hip.
Low self-image and depression not only exist side by side they actually reinforce one another, working as a team.
People that struggle with low self-esteem may also struggle with guilt or shame about the past - strengthening the bond depression and low self-image have with one another. As they spend each and every day thinking about all the things they’ve done wrong, it’s no surprise their self-confidence plummets.
In addition, many people with depression struggle with body image - reinforced by society's unattainable beauty standards. When these people look in the mirror they feel no sense of self-love or worthiness, sending their depression further into a dark hole.
Lastly, depression and self-esteem affect one another through their ability to reinforce harmful or toxic thinking patterns (sometimes learned in childhood). If you grew up with parents who demanded perfection you may still be operating on those standards, despite how unreachable they are. When someone continuously fails to meet those well into their adult lives they may end up with extremely poor self-confidence.
What Are The Signs Of Low Self Image?
Everyone feels unconfident at times, however, there's a big difference between having shaky footing and truly suffering from a low self-image. If you suspect you may have low self-esteem, check out a few of these symptoms:
You’re extremely critical of yourself
You downplay your positive qualities
You feel inferior to your peers
You use negative self-talk to describe yourself (i.e., fat, ugly, annoying)
Your self-talk is negative
You don’t take credit for your achievements
You blame yourself when things go wrong
You have a difficult time taking compliments
You are sensitive to any type of criticism
You make negative jokes about yourself
You are a people pleaser
You struggle to set and maintain boundaries
You engage in comparisons to others
You don't believe you need care
You say "I'm Sorry", for everything!
Many times the feelings of unworthiness or inferiority are hidden deep down in a subconscious level of your brain. You may not even fully realize they’re there until something catastrophic happens, someone criticizes you, or you make a mistake.
While it’s completely normal to feel unconfident or nervous about your abilities at times, for most people they can move past it and those feelings disappear. Take note of how you feel during difficult seasons of your life. Are you focusing blame on yourself rather than taking other outside factors into account? Are you constantly telling yourself you’re stupid, or undeserving of good things in life?
Low self-image can quickly spiral into depression if left untreated. Therapy is an excellent way to help silence that inner critic, boost your confidence, and begin your journey to overcoming depression. As you meet with a mental health professional you’ll find peace in knowing you don’t have to fight this monster alone any longer.
Therapy can help you rewire your brain through positive self-talk, uncovering the root of your low self-image, and redirecting the way you perceive yourself into healthier, more positive perspectives that you can carry with you throughout the rest of your life.
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