Self-Esteem Issues

Unlike traditional psychiatry, which rarely looks at the brain, Amen Clinics uses brain imaging technology to identify underlying brain issues that may be associated with self-esteem problems.

What are Self-Esteem Issues?

Having a healthy level of self-esteem is a foundational aspect of having a good sense of mental wellbeing. A good sense of self-esteem can help you live up to your potential in school, at work, in relationships, and in every area of your life. People who have low self-esteem are likely to underachieve, be afraid to go for their dreams, and tend stay in unsatisfying or unhealthy relationships. They are also more vulnerable to feelings of anxiety and depression. On the other end of the spectrum, those who have an inflated sense of self-esteem often feel they are special and have a sense of entitlement that others may view as arrogant and demanding. At the extreme, these people may have narcissistic personality disorder. It may seem counterintuitive, but people who appear to have excessive self-esteem or who are narcissists may actually suffer from low self-esteem.

Who is Affected by Self-Esteem Issues?

Low self-esteem is common. Self-esteem typically fluctuates across the lifespan. In general, self-esteem is fairly high during childhood, dips during adolescence (especially in girls), rises steadily throughout adulthood, then tends to fall steeply in old age. Research from the Dove Self-Esteem Project shows that 7 in 10 girls say they don’t measure up or aren’t good enough in some way. And 85% of women and 79% of girls say they choose not to participate in activities when they don’t feel good about the way they look.

Low self-esteem can affect boys and men too. In one study, over 80% of men said they talk about body image and point out flaws and imperfections in ways that promote anxiety.

What are the Symptoms of Self-Esteem Issues?

Signs and symptoms of self-esteem issues often emerge during a person’s teens or in young adulthood. See below on this page to learn the characteristics associated with healthy self-esteem and some of the common symptoms associated with low self-esteem and inflated self-esteem.

What Causes Self-Esteem Issues?

Many factors can influence your self-esteem in a negative way, including:

  • Genetics: Heredity
  • Exposure to trauma: Negative emotional experiences or turbulent relationships
  • Poor academic performance: Having learning difficulties or trouble in school
  • Social media: Constantly comparing yourself to others on social platforms
  • Thinking patterns: Tendency to focus on flaws and weaknesses

Self-esteem issues that go unchecked can lead to physical, psychological, and social consequences.

Low self-esteem:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Violence
  • Suicide
  • Eating disorders


Inflated self-esteem:

  • Substance abuse
  • Anxiety
  • Mood disorders
  • Violence
  • Suicide

Why Choose Amen Clinics for Treating Self-Esteem Issues?

Amen Clinics uses brain SPECT imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation, which can help determine if your self-esteem problems are related to any mental health conditions that also need treatment. At Amen Clinics, we also assess other factors—biological, psychological, social, and spiritual—that can contribute to self-esteem issues. Based on all of this information, we are able to personalize treatment, which may include helpful forms of psychotherapy, natural supplements, nutrition, exercise, and medication (when necessary).

Contact Us

Low Self-Esteem and High Self-Esteem Brains Work Differently

Neuroimaging studies are teaching us more about where self-esteem lives in the brain. A 2017 study in eLife pinpointed what happens in the brain when a person’s self-esteem goes up or down. They enlisted 40 people who agreed to have their brain scanned by MRI while they were judged by strangers—either getting a thumbs up or a thumbs down. The researchers found that activity related to self-esteem occurs in the insula and prefrontal cortex, areas of the brain related to valuation and learning. In this study, the people who had the greatest fluctuation in brain activity in these areas during the social evaluation task also had lower self-esteem and were more likely to have anxiety or depression.

Ready to learn more? Speak to a care coordinator today!

Contact Us

Symptoms of Self-Esteem Problems

Self-esteem issues can manifest in a variety of ways. How can you tell if your level of self-esteem is healthy, or if you may have a problem? Take a look at the following characteristics associated with healthy, low, and inflated self-esteem.

Healthy self-esteem is associated with:

  • Positive outlook
  • Generally liking yourself
  • Confidence in your abilities
  • Ability to handle constructive criticism
  • Awareness of your strengths and weaknesses
  • Negative situations don’t color your outlook on life
  • Feeling comfortable saying no to things
  • Feeling comfortable asking for help
  • Ability to withstand stress


Low self-esteem is associated with:

  • Feeing unlikable
  • Negative outlook
  • Lack of confidence
  • Excessive fear of failure
  • Trouble accepting criticism or positive feedback
  • Excessive focus on and insecurity about your weaknesses
  • Negative experiences impact your overall outlook on things
  • Feeling a need to say yes to everything to appease others
  • Uncomfortable expressing your needs
  • Preoccupation with how others perceive you
  • Feelings of anxiety, depression, shame, or inadequacy


Inflated self-esteem is associated with:

  • An exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • A desire to be recognized as special
  • A sense of entitlement to special treatment
  • A tendency to exaggerate accomplishments or talents
  • Needs external validation to feel good about self
  • Arrogance


“With A Better Brain Comes A Better Life”

– Daniel G. Amen, M.D.


Contact Us