The Mental Illness and Self-Confidence Connection

January 14, 2013 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Mental illness and self-confidence affect one another for sure. Can you recover from mental illness and improve your self-confidence at the same time?

Mental illness and self-confidence are intricately connected, before and after a mental illness diagnosis. Self-confidence is a tricky thing to define, and even more so when connected to mental illness, but it's important so let's give it a shot.

What Is Self-Confidence?

Let's refer to the good old thesaurus for a general description and then narrow it down and connect self-confidence to mental illness and our experience of confidence. Confidence is defined as having a "belief in oneself . . . self-assurance . . . determination." I expected more of a definition, a few thousand examples perhaps, but that is what I get and I suppose that gives us a lot to work with.

Let's be honest: We could write a massive book on confidence and surely many exist but, in my experience, mental illness has impacted my self-confidence in many ways.

How Mental Illness Affects Self-Confidence

Here are a few examples of mental illness affecting self-confidence that I believe many people who live with mental illness can relate to:

  • Before diagnosis, our behavior influences self-confidence. We may wonder why we act certain ways or respond to life events differently than those around us. A couple of examples: why we cannot seem to hold a job for long and why our relationships suffer.
  • Once we have been diagnosed--despite finding reason for our emotions and actions--we suddenly have a mental illness and that's scary. At first, the mental illness diagnosis is downright frightening and negatively influences our confidence.
  • While on the road to recovery, our confidence may waver; taking medications, practicing self-care and trying to figure the entire mess out. It's a lot of work and can be isolating.

These are just a few examples. If I could sit still long enough, I would type pages (that would be rather wordy and entirely boring I suspect). But it's important to share our experience and to understand that self-confidence is something we all define differently.

Pursuing Self-Confidence with Mental Illness

Yes, I know, recovering from mental illness is hard enough. It's something we do every single day even when we are well--we work to maintain stability. I believe that the negative impact mental illness has on our level of confidence makes recovery more difficult. Recovering from mental illness--whether we can recognize it or not--involves the pursuit of self-confidence.

Learning about our illness involves learning about ourselves. Finding stability or working toward it increases our level of confidence. After all, it's hard work and like everything else in life the stuff that we work hardest to achieve is the most satisfying.

In your experience, what's helped you find self-confidence?

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2013, January 14). The Mental Illness and Self-Confidence Connection, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 29 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Annie H.
October, 20 2021 at 11:35 pm

Mental illness is not curable. Depression and anxiety are managed via therapy, learned cognitive-behavioral skills and/or medication. I have been managing my chronic depression and social anxiety disorder for 30+ years.
Self-confidence and mental illness are not partners. To suggest a loss in self-confidence is the byproduct of a mental illness diagnosis is irresponsible and false.

April, 26 2014 at 2:18 am

Your email is rubbish Musli, clearly you're uninformed on such matters and speak the experience of a curist. There is no nice little pattern or box, these spectrum off sickness of devastating illnesses fall into. The difference, you can't treat what can't see, but I encourage your enthusiasm and the paragraph you cut and paste from your text book. 23 year sufferer. Severe DPD.

Dr Musli Ferati
January, 24 2013 at 10:59 am

I few words, mental illness indicates a disintegrated psychic apparatus that deteriorated our feeling, thoughts and daily behave. In this complex disorder the place and role of self-confidence is in double positive correlation, that means as hard mental illness such weaker self-confidence and vice versa. Each discretited self-confidence impedes the probabilities for a satisfying recovery from any mental disorder. This specification, on the other hand has got great impact in current treatment and management of mental illnesses. Therefore, it should to grow up the self-confidence through long-term process of psychiatric treatment, in order to ensure better outcome to any mental disorder, without exemption.

January, 23 2013 at 3:34 am

Sometimes people really loss self confidence they have doubt what they can do.. It's really important that we have positive perceptions in life.

January, 19 2013 at 6:30 am

I am probably quite a bit older than most of the people who will respond, but I have dealt with mental illness (in the form) of depression most of my life. For many years it had control over every aspect of my life. I lived with a sense of helplessness and hopelessness and isolation and despair. (For me, isolation is not positive. I don't need a lot of interaction, but I need to have a few people I can turn to for help if necessary.)
The first most important thing to was establish a positive relationship with a helping professional. That person has been a part of my life for about 20 years! I trust him and can tell him anything.
I also tried to do things in which I could succeed. These were pretty tiny at first, like getting dressed in the morning or fixing a meal for myself, but I needed to give myself credit for them! I have gradually worked up to bigger tasks. I also learned to trust myself and believe in who I am.
Another thing was to keep a gratitude list. I learned to give thanks for some very small things which I was taking for granted. This made me more aware of other things to be gratful for.
Very gradually I developed a sense of empowerment, which I believe is the root of self-confidence.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
January, 19 2013 at 7:53 am

Hi, Barb:
Isolation is such a huge part of depression. I have yet to meet anyone who wants to spend a heck of a lot of time with other people--you know, smiling people, people who have a normal amount of energy. People not like us--at least when we suffer a period of depression.
That's fantastic you have a positive relationship with a helping professional. And for 20 years! :)
You seem to have walked the road, albeit a rocky one, to a sense of peace and I congratulate you on this. I also hope others can find this peace as well. Thank you for such a positive post.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 2 2019 at 11:52 am

Hello folks,
Like Barb, I've dealt with depression for 42 years, with episodes at twenty and thirty years old, which knowing what I now know, were moderate episodes. Then in my mid-forties, I had three severe episodes, a year apart, earning me a diagnosis upgrade to Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent and Severe. Then beginning last Dec, I had a slowly worsening episode that has been my worst and longest. During this episodei was also diagnosed with ADHD. I've only been climbing outta the pit of the blackest darkness, shame, and despair, for about three weeks now.
And yes, my self confidence is always the first to go when the beast comes out of remission, as it was in early December when I lost yet another great job to the depression.
My negative self talk camps out on how "weak and cognitively challenged" I am with depression.
I'm learning that not only am I ABLE to retrain my mind with God's throughs about who I am in Christ, and how much God loves each and every one of us, but that the results of those changes Jane immediate and lasting effect on my self image and confidence.

January, 19 2013 at 4:47 am

I can so relate to this issue...I spent 18 years misdiagnosed and was finally diagnosed a year ago with Bipolar disorder. I had spent so many years alternating from depression and suicidal attempts and thoughts to manic episodes in which my self esteem was literally wiped out. In addition to molestation in my early teens...I continued 18 ys of my untreated mania in the adult sex industry..from photography, dancing, and movies..I hated every minute of it and hated myself even more for allowing myself to be involved in the has taken lots of work with medication trials and therapy to help rebuild my esteem..I was judged by many for years for what I did for a living. I guess what I try to express to others now is to not judge someone for you don't always know what they are going through or dealing with emotionally or mentally.. I can gladly say I'm Gonna Be OK Now and that day by day with proper treatment I am rising up to a higher self esteem I can be proud of and say I Do Love Me more and more every day....Christian :-)

January, 14 2013 at 5:21 pm

Isolating, I feel confident as long as I don't get close to other people, I can work, and everything, but when I relate to others everything changes.
I guess it has to do with... I know I'm a little weird, and I'm ok with it, even with my own illness, but it stresses me out sharing it, and feeling any time I can hurt other people, or they'll go 'cause my strangeness.

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