Finding the Root Cause of Low Self-Esteem

Written by Karl Perera BA, MA, DipLC
February 13th, 2019 | Updated: March 25th, 2020

Finding the cause of low self esteem can be difficult but it’s worth trying

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Everyone has days where they feel inadequate and can’t shake the idea they’re a failure. However, if one day turns into two, and a week turns into a month, it’s time to stop and figure out what’s causing the sudden drop in self-esteem. Too often, people simply realize they are chronically sad and depressed without trying to learn why. While there’s no guarantee you’ll find the root cause of low self-esteem, finding out is worth a try.

Here are some ways to try and get to the bottom of why you’re suddenly feeling so down:

Check your meds

If you’ve recently started taking a new medication, discontinued taking something else, or are otherwise undergoing medical treatment which is relatively recent, it’s very likely this could be the cause of a sudden mood disorder.

Use an online pill identifier to research the possible side effects of any medication you’re taking and find out if any potential drug interactions are taking place which would lead to a change in your mood or behavior. Consult with your doctor about the recent shift in your emotional stability to see if there is any credence to the medication being the culprit for low self-esteem.

Be a detective

Those who find themselves struggling with a sudden bout of low self-esteem ought to try and probe the world around them for possible clues explaining why.

While the root cause might be something within the person – a chemical imbalance or a repressed memory – oftentimes the cause is made apparent by actions and events observed in the world around us.

Take the time to retrace your steps for as far back as you can remember feeling so blue, and see if a pattern emerges. Stop and think about the variables which weren’t there before the change but are here now. While correlation does not prove causation, these clues can set you on the right path towards feeling better.

Write it down

Nearly every therapist and psychiatrist on the planet encourages patients to write in a journal or diary several times a week, preferably once a day.

By jotting down an assessment of your day – even if it’s just a few sentences – you can develop a record of your interaction with the world which, over time, can help to identify issues which may otherwise go overlooked. This can be immensely helpful in finding out the root cause of an unshakeable bout of low self-esteem.

Wear a tracker

The body and mind are linked more than most people realize. The reason you feel blue might be as simple as not getting enough sleep. Wear a fitness tracker that monitors sleep and other metrics to get a better sense of your health habits. A pattern may emerge which accounts for why you’re struggling with low self-esteem.

Watch your diet

Lastly, it must be said that we are what we eat.

As tired as that adage is, there’s a reason it gets repeated over and over: it’s true! If you have a habit of eating poorly, your body and mind will suffer.

While it’s not as simple as “potato chips make me sad and celery makes me happy”, there is plenty of evidence that suggests a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables helps to stave off depression and other mood disorders.

What’s more, it’s what’s best for your body. It’s an all-around win.

We all have days where we feel down. However, if your down days turn into weeks and months of depression, it’s time to get help right away. That starts with trying to get to the root cause of the problem.

While it may be elusive, the process of uncovering it is an important stage in getting your emotional well being back on track.

More obvious sources of low self esteem

There are some more obvious causes of low self esteem besides the many which cannot be seen. Disability is one of these. There are things you can do to help boost the self esteem of a disabled person.

Another cause of low self esteem can be a person’s financial situation. If this is the case, then please think about how self esteem and finances are connected. Again there is much that can be done to help a person in this position.