Is it Self-Doubt or Depression? Reasons it Might Be a Mental Illness

Last Updated: Dec 11th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

Is it Self-Doubt or Depression? Reasons it Might Be a Mental Illness

It’s important to understand the difference between self-doubt and depression. Recognizing what you’re going through enables you to find healthy solutions and work through toxic behaviors. 

We all experience feelings of sadness from time to time. We may get down in the dumps or have days when we look in the mirror and say, “I’m not too fond of you today”…It happens! Self-doubt is a normal emotion to feel and you should never feel ashamed of not feeling your best sometimes.

However, depression is something that should be taken much more seriously. Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that an individual feels regularly. Feeling deep sadness or dead for an extended amount of time may mean that you have depression.

You’re Not Going to Experience Self-Doubt or Depression Forever

Before we get into the differentiation between self-doubt and depression, I’d like to drive home a point. The pain you’re feeling now has the potential to not only make you a better person but to ultimately catapult you into a much happier life. It’s not always easy to understand how that’s going to happen in the moment. Sometimes it feels pretty impossible that you’ll ever feel better or truly happy.

As someone that’s experienced depression, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to last forever. Emotions are like waves – they flow in and out. You are not your emotions. You may feel them, but that doesn’t mean you have to let them define you.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from experiencing depression is that it was a hidden blessing in my life. Depression allowed me to develop a deep sense of empathy towards others. Depression has shown me how strong I truly am by overcoming feelings of hopelessness and self-doubt. Depression has allowed me to work through my problems and redefine happiness.

With the right lifestyle changes and treatment, you become acutely aware of yourself. You also become more aware of your surroundings and life. Experiencing depression sets you up to come to realizations and break-throughs other people may never understand. 

For example, I learned that awareness in the present moment is a powerful tool. Taking the time to focus on your five senses and appreciate the environment around you. The past is long gone and the future is can be defined by each present moment building upon the next. 

So appreciate the present. Look around you and just take a moment to breathe. After doing this enough times, you get a certain feeling of comfort. 

You are not your depression. You are not your feelings of self-doubt. At 1st Step Behavioral Health, we would be honored to help show you your potential. 

Symptoms of Depression

As we navigate through these feelings of sadness, let’s start with the symptoms of depression. You may find yourself asking the question: “Is it normal self-doubt and sadness or is it depression?” 

Everyone is unique in what they experience, but these are generally the most common signs of depression:

  • Feelings of helplessness and consistent dread –  A negative perspective on life – nothing will change and there’s nothing you can do to feel better.
  • Loss of interest in daily activities –  You don’t care anymore about former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. It may seem like you’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
  • Anger or irritability – You may find yourself feeling agitated or restless. Aggressive behavior may also begin to occur. The people around you, as well as your surroundings, easily get on your nerves. 
  • Loss of energy –  Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete. 
  • Self-loathing – Intense feelings of low self-esteem or shame. You’re a harsh critic towards yourself – you may spend a lot of time overanalyzing your perceived mistakes and decisions. 
  • Reckless actions –  You partake in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
  • Problems focusing –  Making decisions, concentrating or remembering things has become an issue.

So, What’s Self-Doubt and Sadness Then?

Although self-doubt and sadness go hand in hand with depression, they’re very normal emotions to experience on their own. Everyone feels self-doubt from time to time. It can even be healthy to critique yourself honestly, from a place of love. 

However, it’s the consistent dread and sadness that somebody depressed feels that makes the difference. If you find yourself feeling deeply unhappy and “out of it” regularly, then it may be time to seek help

Self-Doubt

Self-doubt can be described by not feeling good enough. You may find yourself doubting your capabilities and overanalyzing your every decision. An unhealthy self-doubt is the inability to see the good things about yourself. 

It’s hard to maintain motivation when you can’t appreciate the good in yourself. We may believe that we’ll never achieve our goals, that we don’t have talent, or are not worthy of our position or partner. Small failures give us a reason to partake in an unhealthy amount of self-loathing. Self-doubt paints a false picture in front of your eyes. 

Self-doubt is nothing but a monster your mind creates. You may feel self-doubt now and then that you’re able to overcome quite quickly. However, if your self-doubt follows you around every single day, then we urge you to give us a call today.

One of our caring specialists will help you determine if you’re experiencing normal feelings of self-doubt, or depression. You’re not alone in this struggle. 

Sadness

Sadness is a normal human emotion that every single person will experience at stressful or challenging times. There are multiple reasons one may experience sadness. It can be because of the loss or absence of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, financial issues, or problems at home. All these situations can leave you feeling glum. 

However, a person experiencing sadness generally finds relief from crying, venting, or talking out frustrations. Sadness tends to be triggered by an event, rather than something that shows up for no reason.

Sadness typically passes with time. If it does not pass, or if the person becomes unable to resume normal function, this could be a sign of depression. If sadness worsens or lasts longer than 2 weeks, outside help may be necessary. 

Are Feelings of Self-Doubt Getting in the Way? 3 Simple Ways You Can Alleviate These Feelings Today

Do you remember when I mentioned how feelings are like waves? Self-doubt is nothing but a temporary emotion that colors your reality in the moment. There is almost never a legitimate reason to be feeling self-doubt. 

We convince ourselves of truths that we allow to define our reality. However, these truths can be damaging at times if they’re negative. Self-doubt is a feeling you can work through. Keep reading to find out how you can start to feel more confident today.

  1. Invest in a journal.

Investing in a journal has many benefits and can quickly become your favorite habit. When it comes to self-doubt, it can help you to:

  • Keep a realistic record of your life. Keep track of positive things that arise in your day-to-day life. You can also write down your achievements to look back on when you’re experiencing self-doubt. 
  • Gain clarity. Writing down your negative thoughts or problems on paper can make a major difference. Once you see it written down, you’ll oftentimes realize the situation isn’t that scary. Making lists of pros and cons allows you to see your challenge in a clearer and more level-headed way. Also, it’s easier to come to solutions this way.

    2.  Get a positivity boost.

We live in an age where it’s so easy to access a wealth of resources on any topic. When it comes to self-doubt, there’s plenty of books, podcasts, and videos out there made to help you. Let someone else’s enthusiasm, motivation, and constructive optimism flow over to you.

Spend 20 minutes with an audiobook, a podcast or a book that helps lift feelings of self-doubt. 

Everyone has their preferences and you may have to do a little searching, but here are some of my personal favorites:

  • Super Brain: A book written by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph E. Tanzi.
  • Oprah’s Soulful Sunday Podcast – This is a little more on the spiritual side.
  • Joe Rogan’s advice in this motivational video (I listen to this every morning)

     3.  Sharpen your skills.

If you’re experiencing self-doubt before an important presentation or an event you’re attending, take the time to prepare! For example, read a book about public speaking that’ll give you more confidence. Feeling socially-anxious? Research ways to calm yourself down in the moment and work on implementing them.

Do You Have a Feeling Your Self-Doubt is Depression? – What Treatment at 1st Step Looks Like

If you’ve realized that your self-doubt has stemmed from depression, then we can help you today. Our treatment is tailored to each patient. We have a variety of programs ranging from inpatient rehabilitation to outpatient treatment. The type of care will be dependent upon the severity of your depression.

No matter which kind of rehab program you attend, the core of treatment will remain the same. We offer a wealth of resources such as one-on-one counseling, group therapy, holistic care, and much more. Each program will work with your schedule. Treatment may consist of a structured all-day program or it may mean evening visits to a therapist.

Regardless of how lost you may feel, we assure you that it does get better. At the end of the tunnel is a bright light. We want to navigate you towards that light and show you what life should feel like.

Call Us Today

If you have a feeling your self-doubt is depression, don’t hesitate to give us a call today. With the right treatment program and support, recovery is possible. Depression doesn’t have to last forever. You can feel joy and happiness again. You just need the right tools at your disposal. 

We would be honored to help show you the potential that’s always been there. Call us at (866) 319-6126 or contact us here for more information about available programs.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.