Self-Esteem Going Downhill or Recurring Depression?

Question by Shivers: Self-esteem going downhill or recurring depression?
Over a fair few months I’ve felt worse and worse about myself and can’t stop it from happening. Sometimes I feel so stupid, untalented, ugly, hopeless….just an idiot with no prospects in life, especially compared to others. I just feel like a failure.
I’ve been taking anti-depressants for a few years so I don’t feel suicidal anymore, but I’m just so confused. Could it be a relapse of depression or a self-esteem thing and what can I do?

Best answer:

Answer by Know It All
Hi Shivers, yes, it could be a relapse of depression, of you may be right in that you’re worried about your self-esteem. Here are some good tips that I found in an expert advice column. I’ve noticed that even though I wouldn’t say my self-esteem is low, I do seem to practice more than one of these techniques without consciously thinking about them —

1) Think back to when you did something new for the first time.

Learning something new is often accompanied by feelings of nervousness, lack of self belief and high stress levels, all of which are necessary parts of the learning process. The next time you feel under-confident, remembering this will remind you that it’s perfectly normal – you’re just learning!

2) Do something you have been putting off.

Like writing or calling a friend, cleaning the house, tidying the garden, fixing the car, organizing the bills, making a tasty and healthy meal – anything that involved you making a decision, then following through!

3) Do something you are good at.

Examples? How about swimming, running, dancing, cooking, gardening, climbing, painting, writing… If possible, it should be something that holds your attention and requires enough focus to get you into that state of ‘flow’ where you forget about everything else. You will feel more competent, accomplished and capable afterwards, great antidotes to low self esteem!

And while you’re at it, seriously consider doing something like this at least once a week. People who experience ‘flow’ regularly seem to be happier and healthier.

4) Stop thinking about yourself!

I know this sounds strange, but low self esteem is often accompanied by too much focus on the self. Doing something that absorbs you and holds your attention can quickly make you feel better.

5) Get seriously relaxed.

If you are feeling low, anxious or lacking in confidence, the first thing to do is to stop thinking and relax properly. Some people do this by exercising, others by involving themselves in something that occupies their mind. However, being able to relax yourself when you want is a fantastic life skill and so practicing self hypnosis, meditation, or a physically-based relaxation technique such as Tai Chi can be incredibly useful.

When you are properly relaxed, your brain is less emotional and your memory for good events works better. A great ‘rescue remedy’!

6) Remember all the things you have achieved.

This can be difficult at first, but after a while, you’ll develop a handy mental list of self-esteem boosting memories. And if you’re thinking “But I’ve never achieved anything”, I’m not talking about climbing Everest here.

Things like passing your driving test (despite being nervous), passing exams (despite doubting that you would), playing team sport, getting fit (even if you let it slip later), saving money for something, trying to help someone (even if it didn’t work) and so on.

7) Remember that you could be wrong!

If you are feeling bad about yourself, remember that you way you feel affects your thoughts, memory and behavior. So when you feel bad, you will only remember the bad times, and will tend to be pessimistic about yourself. This is where the tip ‘Get Seriously Relaxed’ comes in!


Once you have tried out a few of these, consider making them a permanent part of your life. For most people, good self esteem is not just a happy accident, it’s a result of the way they think and the things they do from day to day. Good Luck!

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