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Stress, Depression and Low Self Esteem: Symptoms and Treatment

Stress, Depression and Low Self Esteem are often, but not always linked. Although having different symptoms and underlying causes treatment often shares some common elements.


Stress permeates all aspects of our lives and all aspects of our thinking, feeling and behaviour. It can be present in all situations that are important to us, at work, with the people we love, and at play, if we have time for such a thing. 

So learning to recognise and understand it, and knowing something, about how best to cope with it, could make a huge difference to the quality of our lives. 

Symptoms of Stress

Stress can take many forms and affect people in various ways. Below are just some of these:

  • Get headaches
  • Have aches and pains in your arms and legs even though you never exercise
  • Feel tension in your neck and shoulders
  • Feel your stomach churning and have indigestion if you eat anything
  • Find that your getting more coughs and colds than you used to
  • Feel tense, anxious, nervy
  • Feel low or depressed
  • Feel irritable and get angry easily
  • Make mistakes doing things that should be straight forward
  • Find yourself unable to concentrate properly
  • Feel stupid and inadequate most of the time
  • Feel you can't cope with everything you've got to do

Depression- Different types of depression

Mild – has a negative effect on your daily life – difficulty concentrating and motivating yourself. 

Moderate- more symptoms present than in mild and usually more obvious, may be a clear reduction in functioning at home or in the workplace. 

Severe – often known as clinical/major depression – significantly interferes with a person’s ability to cope with daily life and function – some people can experience one episode or several – can lead to psychosis and hospitalisation – high risk of suicide.

What causes depression?

There is no one cause of depression, it can be:

  • Reactive – reaction to life events and traumas
  • Biological  – occurring from within your body  

Depression is most common amongst people aged 25-44 years, but people both younger and older than this can also suffer from it.

Types of Depression

  • Post Natal –  Postnatal depression is a type of depression that many parents experience after having a baby.
    It's a common problem, affecting more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth. It can also affect fathers and partners.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.
    SAD is sometimes known as "winter depression" because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter. A few people with SAD may have symptoms during the summer and feel better during the winter.
  • Bi-Polar disorder - Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another. People with bipolar disorder have periods or episodes of: 1) depression – feeling very low and lethargic, 2) mania – feeling very high and overactive
  • Severe Depression - Someone with severe clinical depression feels sad and hopeless for most of the day, practically every day, and has no interest in anything. Getting through the day feels almost impossible. Some people who have severe clinical depression will also experience hallucinations and delusional thinking, the symptoms of psychosis.

Symptoms of depression

  • Low mood / Self esteem
  • Loss of pleasure in things
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Preoccupation with negative thoughts
  • Feelings of numbness, emptiness, & despairing
  • Feelings of guilt and blaming oneself without real cause
  • Poor concentration and difficulties making decisions
  • Irritable/ impatient/ isolated
  • Early waking/ difficulty going to sleep or low energy or exhaustion
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Low Self-Esteem:

At the heart of self-esteem lie your central belief about yourself and your core ideas about the kind of person you are. These beliefs normally have the appearance of statements of fact (‘I am...’).

They look like straightforward reflections on your identity, pure statements of truth about yourself. Actually, however, they are more likely to be opinions than facts – summary statements or conclusions you have come to about yourself, based on the experiences you have had in your life, and in particular the messages you have received about the kind of person you are.

So, to put it simply, if your experiences have generally been positive, your beliefs about yourself will probably be broadly positive, too.

If your experiences have been pretty mixed (as most peoples are), then you my have a range of different ideas about yourself, and apply them flexibly according to the circumstances in which you find yourself.

However, if your experiences have generally been negative, then your beliefs about yourself are likely to be equally negative.

Negative beliefs about yourself are the essence of low self-esteem. And this essence may have coloured and contaminated many aspects of your life.

Symptoms of Low Self Esteem

  • Self-Doubt.
  • Critical of self.
  • Put others before yourself.
  • Sometimes taken for granted by others.
  • Prone to Depression.
  • Prone to blaming yourself.
  • May have difficulty asserting needs or speaking out.
  • Apologetic towards others.
  • May avoid challenges and opportunities.
  • Often feel strong emotions like sadness, anxiety, frustration and anger.
  • Often feel tired, with aches and pains and low energy or tension.

Treatment of Stress, Depression and Low Self-Esteem

Although the treatment for stress, depression and low self-esteem can be very different there are some common things you can do that may help you start to feel better. These include:

  • Get plenty of fresh air and exercise.
  • Try to get some natural sunlight everyday, this is especially important in Winter. (Those we SAD may want to consider getting a UV lamp, they are cheap and many people find them useful).
  • Don't overlook socialisation and connection to others, although hard in times of stress or depression, research has shown these matters to general health and wellbeing.
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep. The average person needs about 8 hours of sleep a night, but most people don't get enough. Lack of sleep can both cause stress, depression and low-self esteem, but can also be caused by them, setting of a vicious cycle.
  • Try to find some relaxing activities that work for you.
  • Consider Mindfulness or meditation.
  • Eat well and reduce consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Consider getting professional help.

When to Get Help

The above suggestions will work for many people who are motivated to change, they are very general prescriptions though. There are specific tools and techniques you can use for you disorder. Try reading around some of the posts on this site (for example see posts on  Stress Management). 

If your still struggling then reach out for to schedule a appointment. During your first session, you can share a bit about what's troubling you and I can answer any questions you might have. We'll discuss your goals and my approach and assess whether we are the right fit for each other.

To schedule your first appointment, call 01733 639 040 email I'm here for you.