Self-esteem refers to the set of beliefs you have about yourself -- your abilities and the type of person you are. People with a healthy self-esteem hold mostly positive beliefs about themselves. Those with low self-esteem will generally have negative opinions, focusing on their weaknesses or the mistakes that they have made. They may find it hard to recognize the positive aspects of their personality or blame themselves for any failures they have had. Low self-esteem is not a recognized mental health problem, but self-esteem and mental health are closely related.

Signs & Symptoms

You may be experiencing low self-esteem if you:

  • Have negative thinking patterns, such as assuming you will fail at things you do
  • Find it hard to try new things or complete tasks
  • Feel increasingly socially isolated
  • Feel you are not living your life the way you want
  • Have developed unhealthy coping strategies, such as forming toxic relationships or engaging in substance abuse

Low self-esteem can cause feelings of anxiety and depression that can develop into mental health problems over time.

Some mental health problems, such as depression and social phobia, can also cause low self-esteem. They can make it difficult to maintain a job or perform simple tasks, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. There is also a social stigma associated with mental health problems, which could also result in a negative opinion about yourself.

Tips & Recommendations

To build your self-esteem, you need to change the negative beliefs you have about yourself. There are many ways to do this.

  • Do something you enjoy – We are generally good at doing things we enjoy, and routinely engaging in them can help build your confidence.
  • Build positive relationships – Spend time with positive and supportive people who will not criticize you, and who encourage you to talk to about your feelings. Positivity can help you have a better self-image and feel more confident. At the same time, being caring and supportive of other people will help you feel better about yourself and how other people perceive you.
  • Be more assertive - Being assertive means you value yourself and can express how you are feeling.
  • Take care of yourself – Exercise releases ‘feel-good’ hormones that can help improve your mood. Eating a well-balanced diet will help you to feel healthier and happier. And be sure to get enough sleep---insomnia can cause negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Set goals – Giving yourself an achievable goal can improve your self-esteem when you meet the challenge.

If you still have feelings of low self-esteem, Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTS) can help you manage your feelings and learn techniques to help you live a more satisfying and productive life.

Find a Therapist

Additional Resources Consequences of Low Self-Esteem

SAMHSA: Building Self Esteem, A Self-Help Guide




Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, but anxiety disorders, which affect 40 million adults, are the most common psychiatric illnesses in the United States. Anxiety is a constant “loop” of negative thoughts that circulate in your mind.  READ MORE




About 12 percent of women experience depression compared to 6 percent of men, making women twice as likely to be affected. At any point in time, 3 to 5 percent of people suffer from major depression.  READ MORE


Eating Disorder

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a serious and potentially life-threatening mental health condition that affects all aspects of a person’s emotional and physical health. READ MORE


Feeling Hopeless

Depression is a mood disorder with symptoms that can range from mild to life-threatening. It’s a complicated disorder because it can negatively impact so many aspects of a person’s life. READ MORE


Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder

People with panic disorder experience recurrent and sudden periods of intense fear. These bouts are accompanied by physical effects that can be troubling or disabling.  READ MORE



Suicide and Self-Harm

Self-harm is also known as self-injury or self-mutilation. It is the act of deliberately hurting or injuring yourself by cutting, burning, or beating your head or fists against a wall, among other methods.  READ MORE


Workplace Stress

Workplace Stress

Stress in the workplace is not uncommon. In fact, more employees take time off from work because of stress and anxiety than any other physical illness or injury.   READ MORE




People turn to substances and/or behaviors to escape or distract themselves from pain. Not all of these are unhealthy or problematic but when they get in the way of relationships, work or enjoyment in life, they can become increasingly distressing.



Trauma is an event that elicits a strong emotional response to the experience, such as an accident, assault, natural disaster, violence or long-term abuse. It can leave you feeling shocked, overwhelmed, disoriented and hopeless. READ MORE

Featured Therapist 

Karen L. Kleckner, MA
Karen L Kleckner, M.A..

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Walnut Creek, CA

At the core of many personal issues lie old messages of your sense of worth. Those messages conveyed to you while growing-up that minimized your self-esteem. The journey inward toward your past can often be frightening and disheartening. By slowly revisiting the wounded part of yourself, old repetitive behaviors can cease to exist. A new sense of kindness toward yourself will begin to emerge. Allow me to travel with you to discover what is buried deep inside of your soul, exploring what keeps you from becoming all that you want to be.

View Profile

Find a Therapist