What Mental Illness Causes Low Self-Esteem?

Low self-esteem can create a number of symptoms such as insecurity and lack of confidence. Many believe that it is caused by mental illness. In this article we’ll discuss which mental illness causes low self-esteem and what you can do to help yourself. 

Low self-esteem is linked to mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder. Depression intensifies negative thoughts which fuels insecurity and low self-esteem. Anxiety can cause self-doubt, whereas Borderline Personality Disorder can negatively affect your self-worth.

Low self-esteem can negatively impact your life in so many ways so it is highly important to seek to understand where your low self-esteem may be coming from and what you need to do about it. If you have a mental illness that causes low self-esteem, this article will help you decide what you need to do next, so keep reading…

Mental Illnesses Linked with Low Self-Esteem

Mental illness is a broad term that can be used to describe any mental disorder. 

The most common mental illnesses that cause low self-esteem are depression and anxiety. Depression is a mood disorder where people have feelings of sadness or emptiness for long periods of time. Anxiety is an emotional disorder where people have excessive worry or fear about things in their life.

Mental illness can cause low self-esteem in many ways,  for instance, if someone has depression they may feel like they are not good enough and not worthy of anything.

Depression makes everything look negative. In extreme cases this means you will expect failure no matter what you do. This can seriously impact any self-confidence you have.

Also, depression can cause you to be filled with self-doubt and this can destroy your self-esteem.

Another mental illness that is commonly believed to negatively affect self-esteem is anxiety. It can cause the following:

  • Fear about the future and present
  • Self-doubt 
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Stress
  • A tendency to worry and overthink

The above can eat away at your self-esteem and what begins as anxiety can develop into other mental illnesses such as depression.

Anxiety may cause a person to worry and stress about every little thing they need to do and this can result in feelings of self-doubt as you may begin to feel that events control you and that you are unable to handle them. 

Self-doubt damages your confidence and you may start to see yourself as incapable or feel like a failure. This will in turn hurt your self esteem.

On the other hand, suffering from low self-esteem can make mental illness more likely. Again, the most likely mental illnesses to result from low self-esteem are depression and anxiety.

Social Adequacy

The following graph shows how self esteem is related to different mental illnesses and disorders:

The results above are from a study carried out into the self esteem and feelings of social adequacy of 957 psychiatric patients and a number of control patients. Social adequacy, how confident a person feels in a social context, is related to self esteem.

The above graph shows that the highest self esteem was measured in the control patients without known mental issues, whereas the lowest self esteem levels existed in those suffering from eating disorders and depression.

In this study, a number of mental illnesses seem to affect low self esteem including:

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
  • Addiction

Bipolar Disorder is when a patient swings between a high and a low state such as extreme happiness and negative or depressive moods. See this link for more about mood swings and Bipolar Disorder.

Anxiety causes both stress and worry and if directed at the self can affect self esteem.

Depression is so damaging to self esteem because it creates a negative attitude towards everything including yourself. It also destroys motivation and can increase isolation and feelings of loneliness. 

Addiction to alcohol, in particular, can cause a number of problems and is a form of self-abuse that impacts both physical and mental health resulting in lowered levels of self esteem.

Of course it is always possible to have more than one mental problem and this may compound issues with low self esteem. Many people, for example, suffer from depression and anxiety. This is almost certainly to contribute to lower levels of self esteem and confidence.

Is Having Low Self-Esteem Considered a Mental Illness?

The answer to this question is not straightforward. There are many different opinions on the matter. Some people believe that low self-esteem is a mental illness, while others think it’s just a personality trait.

As we have already seen, low self-esteem can be the result of mental illness but it can also contribute to the onset of mental illness. It is therefore best described as a mental health issue which is related to other mental illnesses rather than being a mental illness in itself.

According to Rethink.org, low self esteem is a symptom that can indicate the presence of a mental illness. One of these is Personality Disorder which can affect how you cope with life’s challenges and day to day events. It also affects your behaviour and how you feel.

When we think of illnesses we are normally talking about physical illness where the symptoms are more obvious because we can see them. So, as self esteem can change your behaviour and causes you to feel differently it could be termed as an illness. The fact that low self esteem is not permanent and can be “cured” also suggests to many that it is an illness. But is it?

I believe that low self esteem is not really an illness but can be one of the symptoms of an illness, especially a mental illness such as depression or anxiety. Likewise, low self esteem can be a consequence of a physical illness. For example, if someone is confined to bed and unable to do the things they did and enjoyed before, lower self esteem is quite likely. 

How to overcome low self-esteem and insecurities

Self-esteem is the opinion that you have about yourself. It can be high or low. Low self-esteem can lead to insecurities and a lack of confidence.

There are many ways to overcome low self-esteem and insecurities. Here are two of my favourites:

  • Focus on your strengths and what you are good at, instead of your weaknesses. 
  • Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself, instead of those who put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.

These are just two of the top tips I recommend you try, but there are many more things you can try to build your self-esteem.

Find out more about how you can overcome low self-esteem and insecurities.

Final Thoughts

Self esteem is not a mental illness but is closely related to several mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. As low self esteem is so debilitating we do need to try to improve it if we are to succeed in life or feel content. There is no doubt that low self esteem can cause or make mental illnesses worse and so improving low self esteem is a necessary part of the treatment for many mental illnesses such as depression, personality disorder, and anxiety.

So make sure to be careful about building and maintaining a healthy level of self esteem so that your mental health and wellbeing are protected. This will lead to a more satisfying and happier sense of self worth and, consequently, a more successful and fulfilling life. 

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