Low Self Esteem Signs

There are many low self esteem signs that indicate possible mental health problems. Of course not everyone with symptoms of low self esteem has a mental health problem but low self esteem is a symptom of a number of psychological disorders including depression, body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders.

Low Self Esteem Signs

Symptoms of low self esteem include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive self-consciousness
  • Obsession with appearance
  • Withdrawing from or discomfort in social situations
  • Lack of confidence in one’s abilities
  • Fear of doing new things or taking chances
  • Difficulty accepting compliments
  • Difficulty making friends or forming close relationships
  • Perfectionism
  • Excessive feelings of guilt/self-blame
  • Feelings are easily hurt

Low Self Esteem Signs
Low Self Esteem Signs in Children

Symptoms of low self esteem in children are similar to those described above but children may demonstrate some other symptoms, as well, like:

  • Easily frustrated
  • Difficulty coping with emotions
  • Behavior problems
  • Difficulty accepting directions or constructive criticism

Disorders with Low Self Esteem Signs

There are a number of disorders with low self esteem signs but it is important to understand that not everyone with low self esteem has a psychological disorder. Low self esteem is just one symptom of these disorders.

People suffering from depression tend to have low self esteem. They tend to feel guilty about things that aren’t really their fault and have a negative view of themselves.

Body dysmorphic disorder is a condition in which a person becomes obsessed with a real or imagined flaw in her appearance. If the flaw is real, it’s usually something small like a tiny scar. She becomes convinced that this flaw in her appearance makes her terribly unattractive, that everyone is staring at her and that this flaw causes people to avoid her or dislike her. People with body dysmorphic disorder usually have very low self esteem.

Anorexia is a condition in which a person restricts food, usually in an attempt to lose weight. People with anorexia often believe they are overweight even when they aren’t, even when in reality they are dangerously underweight. People with anorexia generally have very low self esteem.

Bulimia is a condition in which a person binges on food and then purges, usually by vomiting. It’s an eating disorder similar to anorexia, and as with anorexia, sufferers usually have low self esteem.

Coping with Symptoms of Low Self Esteem

Symptoms of low self esteem are uncomfortable at best.  At their worst, they interfere with daily life. People with low self esteem may avoid trying new things, so they might not apply for a new job they really want or need. They may feel so self-conscious that they avoid social situations, even important family gatherings. If low self esteem is a symptom of a serious condition like depression, anorexia or bulimia, people may be at risk for suicide or death due to malnutrition.

Improve Self Esteem

People can do many things to improve low self esteem. Focusing on accomplishments helps. Getting involved in something you’re really good at helps. Setting small, realistic goals to foster a sense of achievement helps. Sometimes repeating affirmations like “I am a worthwhile person” or “I am a good mother” helps.

If those simple, do-it-yourself techniques don’t help with low self esteem, people may need to consider counseling. A good counselor can help people identify the root causes of poor self esteem and develop a plan for treating the problem.

People suffering from conditions like depression, body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia and bulimia definitely need treatment. They need counseling and may also need medication or other treatment. Counseling will address their self esteem issues as well as other concerns associated with those disorders.


For more information and some self esteem activities, take a look at the following pages: Self esteem exercises, therapeutic activities on self esteem, self esteem worksheets. In addition, we have a quiz for self esteem and a self esteem questionnaire to help you assess yourself. For the definition of self esteem, or for any other identity and self esteem issues, just follow the links.


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