Why Anxiety Makes You Feel Stupid and Like a Failure
Does your anxiety ever make you feel like a failure? Does it ever make you feel stupid? A reader's comment on my post, Top 10 Anxiety-Friendly Jobs really got me thinking about this issue. They indicated that anxiety at work had caused them to exhibit some of the common signs of low self-esteem, including difficulty holding down a job, and becoming easily confused and forgetful. Because I've struggled mightily with these same issues at work, it also got me thinking about other reasons why anxiety makes you feel stupid and like a failure.
Why Anxiety Makes You Feel Stupid
Anxiety is a complex beast. I like to think of it as a collection of various fears and the physiological reactions to those fears. One of the anxiety disorder symptoms I've noticed in myself is that I become easily confused and distracted when I'm anxious. Which is to say, I'm confused and distracted most of the time, which can make you feel stupid. I have a hard time focusing and staying on track. I'm terrible at multitasking. I can really only handle one thing at a time, but life rarely happens that way.
Sometimes, anxiety makes me feel stupid because I feel I can't follow conversations. I can't stand conversation a lot of the time. My head is spinning and I just want to withdraw. I'm living with the cycle of anxious avoidance, trying to get out.
Why Anxiety Makes You Feel Like a Failure
Anxiety can make you feel like a failure for several reasons. First of all, people with anxiety tend to have poor self-esteem. We don't tend to think very highly of ourselves. We don't like ourselves much, and, subsequently, tend to believe other people don't like us either. We suffer from cognitive distortions and self-stigma. Our thinking is often out of whack with reality. Low self-esteem and distorted thinking can easily result in developing social anxiety disorder. This further erodes our self-esteem and increases our sense of failure.
Second, most people with chronic anxiety also have depression, and nothing makes you feel like more of a failure than depression. The crushing weight of constant sadness, the despair, and the hopelessness of depression not only makes you feel like a failure, it can make you question whether there's any meaning (or point) to life itself.
Third, many people with anxiety and depression have suffered a significant trauma in their lives, often in childhood. Things like the impact of divorce on children, alcoholism, mental illness in the family, and child abuse can result in a person developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
I believe low self-esteem, depression, and PTSD are often the cause of anxiety itself. My feeling is that anxiety is ultimately a symptom of deeper, more insidious issues.
What to Do When Anxiety Makes You Feel Stupid and Like a Failure
I'm solutions-oriented, so I keep working on solutions for anxiety, even when it feels pointless -- like it does today. In spite of that, here's some things I do when anxiety makes me feel stupid and like a failure:
- I try to maintain perspective. Even though life feels pretty hopeless today, at least I know why it does. It's not because life really is hopeless, it's because I have a mental illness that distorts my thoughts, my feelings, and my physical reactions to daily life. I know through long experience that things are actually better than I think they are. I also know that this hopeless feeling will pass, like everything else.
- I try to stay productive. I have terrible problems with procrastination, so I know that, for me, part of building self-esteem is to be productive every day. Productivity is, of course, a relative thing. Some days, being productive means I make it out of bed, so my definition of productivity changes from day to day. There are three main types of anxiety-related procrastination, and I have all three of them. Part of not feeling stupid and like a failure because of anxiety means doing my best to stay as productive as I can.
- I try to be patient with myself. Look, I didn't wake up one day and decide that acquiring generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) sounded like a good idea. It's a disease, and the worst thing about it is it tells me I don't have a disease, but that I'm just lazy, stupid, and good for nothing. But that's a lie. One of the real tragedies of anxiety is that it falls directly in line with society's stigma about mental illness in general -- that people who suffer from it are weak, crazy, stupid, and worthless failures.
I hope this sheds a little clarity on why anxiety makes you feel stupid and like a failure. It's a nasty disease, and our culture has little patience or tolerance for it. But, even if others in your life are telling you you're a failure and you're stupid because you struggle with anxiety, I'm here to tell you differently. You are not stupid, and you are not a failure. And neither am I.
Weber, G. (2015, September 30). Why Anxiety Makes You Feel Stupid and Like a Failure, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2015/09/why-anxiety-makes-you-feel-stupid-and-like-a-failure
Author: Greg Weber
First off, you are not the worst person in the world. You sound like a very normal and human person to me who is hurting. Many of us have been where you are. I have attempted suicide myself and I know what that's like.
I can understand how hard it must be if your parents aren't helping you. I'm sorry. I would say you should go to a school counselor, but I know you are on a break right now. Make sure you do this once school gets back in. Until then, you may wish to investigate community resources and charities that work with people with mental health issues. Maybe join a group for people with depression. If you can, see your doctor and talk to him or her and ask for suggestions.
You can also call a helpline at any time. You don't have to be suicidal to call. See some numbers here: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/
You can do this.
- Natasha Tracy
I'm on all kinds of medicines for depression and anxiety but it's not enough to keep me from having them, it's just not quite as bad as it was; It's still bad enough that I haven't even been to a store in over six months. Going to Walmart, for some reason, is worse than going to any other store. I stay at home, in bed for the most part. I just don't know what else to do anymore. I feel stuck, but there are so many things I want to get out and experience.
My body has gone to hell from an eating disorder i hide too. I eat junk and then feel such guilt i could die. then i feel terrible i cant stop doing this!!!
I feel the same way if I been interacting with lots of people. I feel so tired, depressed, feel so stupid and worried whether other will perceive me as a total failure. I also have same problem with forgetfulness and unable to focus/multi tasking.
It is good to find that I am not alone. One thing I tried hard, is to do the opposite than what I am afraid of. For example, I tried to be the presenter for my team at work when opportunity arise. Also I try to always smile even though I feel depressed. I know it sounds crazy, but people will smile back and with that I feel better.
Like you said, however despite what you do, some people will always try to put you down. I try to think if they don't like you.... is not because you have problem, but it is their own problem. You are not obligated to make other people happy. But you should try to make your environment a happier place.
I also live in a cage within my own mind.
Some day we will escape
You all are beautiful people, never forget that!!
This is an important time in my life. I am discovering things about myself I wish I had learned at 30.
Better now than, in contrast to my dad, never.
I have been dealing with anxiety and bi polar depression for years, Can't keep a job ect. but the worst is my anxiety, I freak out with a lot of people around. But after reading this, it's totally me.... I see a therapist and it helps. But my depression is not nearly as bad as my anxiety, HELP how do you deal with that? And thinking normal ?
Go back and tell your pdoc how you feel. I've had terrible anger and it's better now, just after a few weeks. If your pdoc can't help.....go find another doc. This is your life.
He lets the strong mock the weak,control the weak and bully the weak.
God is an evil person.
He lets old pedophiles live their lives while the struggling children carry torture with them forever and it’s his very own priests that were responsible.
Naa,hate you God.
Why he makes people feel sorry for others who have strong minds but have a limb missing but people with depression who are dying in the inside are left alone with no support.