Learn About Ailments | Low Self Esteem

Low Self Esteem

Low self-esteem is a feeling of inadequacy and can be caused by stress. Depression and stress disorders lower confidence and self esteem and can leave people unable to cope with everyday decisions and situations. Low self-esteem can lead to further physical and emotional problems.
Low Self Esteem

In This Article
Did you know? Causes of low self esteem
Symptoms of low self-esteem Diagnosis of low self-esteem
Related terms

  • Low self-esteem is a major factor in teenage promiscuity
  • An estimated 45% of men in the West are unhappy with their bodies
  • A girl's self esteem is related more to her body shape than her actual weight
  • 7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough in some way (looks, relationships etc.)

Low self-esteem is a disorder caused by the way someone thinks about themselves. There are many contributory factors to how a person believes they, and others, view them and these can be triggered by certain life events.

These include:
  • rejection (by a parent or partner)
  • bereavement
  • divorce or separation
  • redundancy
  • abuse
  • bullying
  • peer pressure
  • having an accident
  • level of education
  • alcohol addiction
  • drug addiction
Low self esteem can be combination of factors which build upon each other and create a vicious cycle.

One of the most common reasons for low self-esteem is appearance. How someone perceives other people see them physically can have a major impact on self-esteem. Body image can be difficult to accept if an individual feels there is an irregularity in the way they look. Friends and the media can place unrealistic demands on people to look a certain way and if someone feels they don't meet those standards then their self-esteem suffers.

Another major factor in self-esteem is criticism. Being overly critical can make a person feel stupid
which in turn leads to low self-esteem.

Symptoms of low self-esteem can vary depending on the individual and how low their confidence in themselves has reached. In severe cases, someone suffering prolonged low self-esteem may begin to develop symptoms of mental illness such as anxiety and/or depression.

Common signs that someone is experiencing low self-esteem can include:
  • Indecisiveness – someone with low self-esteem will struggle to make decisions for themselves and those around them.
  • Feelings of shame – people can feel ashamed that they don't look a certain way (body image) or act in a certain way.
  • Perfectionism – low self-esteem can cause someone to strive for perfection in the belief it will please other people or make others like them more.
  • Inability to handle criticism – this usually begins with a criticism or comment made by someone else which triggers feelings of inadequacy. Any further criticism can be blown out of proportion making a person unable to handle comments or avoiding others to ensure they are not criticised.
  • Pessimism/criticism – to protect themselves, someone with low self-esteem will express their feelings by being pessimistic about certain situations or by being critical of others.
  • Worry about the future – instead of living in the moment or looking forward to things, someone with low self-esteem will to try to predict what might happen in the future and live in fear of something bad occurring.

Low self-esteem is not a condition in itself but feelings of inadequacy can lead to more serious physical and mental health problems such as bulimia, anorexia, depression, stress and anxiety. In the first instance you should visit your GP who will ask a series of questions to assess your condition.

The GP may ask about when the problems began to see if there are any contributory factors such as abuse, bereavement or addiction to drink/drugs. They may also assess you for symptoms of depression, stress or eating disorders.

If necessary, the GP will refer you to a mental health specialist to help you identify the underlying cause of your problem.

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