What Are the Different Types of Self-Esteem Disorders?

Marlene Garcia

Self-esteem disorders include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and obsessive/compulsive behavior. Narcissism also identifies a self-esteem disorder that might appear as high self-esteem and confidence. Psychologists commonly agree that self-esteem disorders begin in childhood as a result of abuse, bullying, or frequent humiliation.

Excessive criticism by parents while growing up can lead to low self-esteem.
Excessive criticism by parents while growing up can lead to low self-esteem.

Depression stemming from low self-esteem typically centers on feelings of worthlessness. Patients suffering depression might tolerate abuse from others because they believe they deserve poor treatment. As abuse continues, depression might become deeper and lead to the use of drugs, alcohol, or food as a form of self-medication.

Anorexia is one self-esteem disorder that is caused by a person's body image.
Anorexia is one self-esteem disorder that is caused by a person's body image.

Some people afflicted with self-esteem disorders hold ideals of perfectionism. They might constantly seek ways to be accepted and have trouble tolerating failure. Obsessive/compulsive disorder represents one result of low self-esteem. When these patients cannot maintain self-imposed standards of perfection, it might lead to repeating certain behaviors that ease the stress of daily life.

The victim of mental abuse may be subjected to hurtful criticism, taunting, and name calling in order to decrease his or her self-esteem.
The victim of mental abuse may be subjected to hurtful criticism, taunting, and name calling in order to decrease his or her self-esteem.

Self-esteem disorders might also develop as anxiety. People with this problem commonly worry about how others view them. They might dwell on measuring up to what they think others expect of them and become vigilant about not upsetting other people. The fear of rejection might cause a person with this disorder to become passive or aggressive as a way to deal with anxiety.

Narcissism is a disorder that may appear to be high self-esteem.
Narcissism is a disorder that may appear to be high self-esteem.

Some self-esteem disorders also appear as eating disorders, which include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. These problems might first arise as patients try to lose weight to fit an ideal body image, but still view their body as unattractive despite loss of weight. Anorexics might resort to extreme dieting by refusing to eat food, even when body weight drops dangerously low.

Bulimia represents a progressive disorder that typically start as anorexia. The patient binges on large quantities of food before purging or using laxatives. Binging might produce feelings of guilt and the need to vomit to rid the body of calories consumed. Binging includes eating huge amounts of food without purging, follow by self-loathing linked to obesity.

Patients suffering from narcissistic self-esteem disorders might exhibit an attitude of superiority. They may believe they deserve special treatment because they are more talented or smarter than other people. These patients might take advantage of others because they lack empathy. Although narcissists might appear highly confident, they commonly suffer from poor self-esteem disorders that might cause them to react with anger and criticism around other people.

People with self-esteem disorders might have trouble in relationships because they feel unworthy of love. They often do not set boundaries, or they might appear very needy. Poor communication skills represent another symptom of low self-esteem that might affect social and personal relationships. This might result in refusal to discuss issues or becoming fearful of asking for what people want or need.

Bulimia is a symptom of someone with poor self-esteem.
Bulimia is a symptom of someone with poor self-esteem.

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Discussion Comments

bluedolphin

I have generalized anxiety disorder as a low self esteem symptom. It's because I was heavily criticized and mocked in my childhood. I was criticized by my parents an constantly mocked and bullied at school. My anxiety started when I was in middle school and got worse as I got older. I've been suffering from anxiety attacks since high school.

I want to add however that stress makes my anxiety worse. When I'm stressed, my self esteem is lower, and my anxiety triples.

bear78

@donasmrs-- You have a point, but sometimes self esteem issues do lead to serious self image disorders like narcissistic personality disorder. Of course, no one wants to hear that they are abnormal and they shouldn't be hearing this. But accepting that there is a problem is the first step for getting better.

donasmrs

I actually think that we need to stop labeling low or high levels of self esteem as a disorder. It's true that both can cause problems for an individual that may show up in different ways. I also agree that this is something that individuals need to work on, perhaps with help from a professional.

But we should also look at things from the point of view of those who have low or high levels of self esteem. For example, pointing out that they have very low self esteem to someone who is already stressing themselves out because they want to be perfect, is not helpful. It will actually aggravate the situation by making them feel that they are lacking something.

I do have low levels of self esteem and I have sought help from doctors for it. Unfortunately, efforts of doctor to help actually make me feel worse. I'm often forced to sit through discussions where my accomplishments are listed out to me like a lecture. At that point, instead of feeling better about myself, I feel worse. I think people with low self esteem want to be treated normal, at least I do. I don't want special treatment because that reinforces my subconscious beliefs that I am incompetent or not as good as everyone else.

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