The connection between anxiety and self-esteem is discussed in this article. This is worth reading.
Anxiety and Self Esteem Podcast Version
Self-esteem can affect your anxiety and affect your life. However there is much you can do to help your self-esteem, anxiety and overall mental health. Learn more by listening to this podcast. You won’t be disappointed.
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Well, this is an enquiry that I get on this site quite frequently, and I wanted to see some credible information about self-esteem and anxiety. Therefore I did some digging. I located a research study via the US Library of Medicine’s PubMed.org. The study was carried out by the University of Basel, Switzerland, and looked at whether self-esteem can be a good predictor of anxiety and depression.
Researchers conducted a meta analysis (which refers to collectively reviewing a number of individual studies) on 77 studies of depression and 18 studies of anxiety. They carried out a longitudinal analysis of the data (which refers to studying the populations over a period of time). The analysis found a correlation between low self-esteem and anxiety and depression but the data did not reveal that low self-esteem causes anxiety or depression.
The correlation between anxiety and self-esteem is not surprising
What we think affects how we feel according to the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) model. (A section of this site is dedicated to CBT.) In short, our thoughts cause our emotions. If we do not think highly of ourselves or our ability in situations then this can impact our anxiety levels.
Let us look at a specific example that yields some helpful strategies.
Many people just love getting together with friends and family. But others do not. For instance, some anxiety sufferers might consider such events to be stressful and something best avoided. This is caused by their tendency, whenever they are in such social situations, to compare themselves to friends and family in a very bad way.
While everyone has a tendency to compare themselves to others, some people take it to extremes. If you value your self-worth (which goes beyond merely being competitive) on the basis of always using others as your frame of reference then your self-esteem will fluctuate all of the time.
If you allow the external world to dictate your self-worth then you will find yourself feeling down and anxious whenever others appear to have accomplished more. Although this would seem to be an unreasonable standard for anyone to hold themselves to, many people do just that.
The most important thing to realize is that your self-worth is not something that should be measured relative to others. Rather, as humans, we all have equal self-worth. We are all individuals. We each have different life experiences. So when you think about it, comparing yourself to others is never really accurate.
Instead you can prepare for gatherings with relatives and friends by reminding yourself that self-worth is not relative to your career or your accomplishments. Ultimately, whether you compare your self-worth to others depends entirely on a choice. Try asking yourself the following question: Am I going to compare my self-worth to others or recognize that I’m equal to other people in this regard?
But there’s more. Whether you want to tackle any self-esteem or anxiety issue, I don’t think you can go wrong with the CBT model. Analyze your thoughts for cognitive distortions whenever you are feeling anxious before or after social gatherings. If you click here, you can access a list of cognitive distortions to analyze your thoughts for distortions and then substitute in their place more realistic and happier ones.
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Psychol Bull. 2013 Jan;139(1):213-40. doi: 10.1037/a0028931. Epub 2012 Jun 25.
Does low self-esteem predict depression and anxiety? A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Retrieved February 16, 2013, from