Feeling Like A Burden? What It Means And How To Overcome It

Updated July 02, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers

Certain mental health issues can make us feel like a burden, which can greatly impact how we perceive ourselves, how we act, and how we allow ourselves to be treated by others. No matter what people may tell you, you can still feel as though your existence is causing issues for other people, which can be detrimental to your mental health. Are you feeling like a burden? If so, you must learn just how important and loved you are and how to overcome these overwhelming feelings. To help you do so, here is some more information on why you may feel the way you do and how you can treat these feelings.

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Feeling Like A Burden? Reasons Behind The Feeling

Our feelings contribute to our reality. If you feel like a burden, you will have to realize that this isn’t the truth and work through those feelings to see your worth. However, working through those feelings may not always be easy since it requires challenging your thoughts and working through your emotions. Sometimes, a hidden mental health disorder may be at the root of these difficult feelings. Here are some of the reasons why you may feel like a burden.

Low Self-Esteem And Confidence

People who suffer from low self-esteem may believe that they are worthless or burdensome, especially if this is a belief that has either been solidified over time or is something that someone may have caused them to believe in the past. If you do suffer from low self-esteem, it can be helpful to remember that you can overcome these beliefs and work towards being more confident.

For some, low self-esteem may be something that is experienced on its own. For others, however, low self-esteem and confidence may be a symptom of a larger mental illness, which may fall into one of the mental health disorders listed below.

Anxiety Disorders

If you struggle with anxiety, you may be worried that your anxiety symptoms are troublesome to those around you, or that people may leave you as a result of having anxiety. While these beliefs are not rooted in fact, they are still very real to the person experiencing them, and these types of beliefs may worsen your existing anxiety symptoms. However, worrying about what others think of you and having a mental health disorder like anxiety are two different things. To help you better understand if you are dealing with anxiety, here is a list of symptoms associated with this mental illness.

  • Feeling as though you are constantly on edge
  • Feeling fatigued and having difficulty concentrating or following through with tasks
  • Being irritable and angry
  • Experiencing muscle tension and random pain
  • Worrying frequently
  • Having issues sleeping
  • In some cases of anxiety disorder, you may also experience panic disorder, which will feature symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, intense feelings of dread and fear, and shaking or trembling.
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If you believe that you are dealing with symptoms of anxiety disorder, you must seek out help to deal with this mental health disorder as soon as possible to help you experience relief. This may also allow you to tackle better your feelings associated with feeling like a burden when you begin working through them.

Depression (Or Other Similar Mental Health Disorders)

Depression is one potential cause behind feeling like a burden, especially if you have noted that other symptoms accompany these feelings. Depression is a mental illness that can lead you to believe many negative things about yourself, affecting your overall mood and self-perception. If you believe that you may have depression, symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and helplessness (although some people may experience emptiness or numbness when they are dealing with a mental health disorder like depression)
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping touch much
  • Having little to no appetite or eating more than usual (these symptoms may be accompanied by noticeable weight gain or weight loss)
  • Feeling fatigued and lethargic, which can make it so that you speak and move slower
  • Difficulty concentrating and maintaining focus
  • No desire or motivation to do daily tasks or to engage in activities previously enjoyed
  • Agitation, anger, or irritation
  • Frequent thoughts of death or dying

If you spot symptoms of depression, you must seek out help immediately, especially if you are thinking about suicide or believe that you are at risk of harming yourself. If you are thinking about suicide, you should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (available 24 hours every day).

Although mental health issues may be a major contributor if you feel like a burden, you may also feel like a burden if you are dealing with other mental illnesses like an eating disorder or bipolar disorder, or even if you are dealing with a health issue that makes you reliant on certain people to help you accomplish certain tasks and navigate life. No matter what you may be going through, support is available.

How To Stop Feeling Like A Burden

Now that we’ve reviewed some of the issues that may be causing your current state of mind let’s take a look at some ways you may be able to overcome this sense of feeling like a burden for friends and family members.

Building Up Your Self-Esteem

One great way to start working towards a life where you no longer feel like your burdening others is by building up your self-esteem and working on recognizing your value as a person. When we feel as though we have no value or that others don’t like us or feel burdened by our existence, it could point to issues and insecurities that we may be dealing with. Fortunately, you can build your self-esteem up and become more secure with who you are. How? Here are a few ways to get started.

  • Repeating positive affirmations and pointing out things that you love about yourself.
  • Setting out words of encouragement and kind reminders for yourself.
  • Spending more time with people who make you feel loved and appreciated.
  • Doing things that you are great at.
  • Setting achievable goals and tasks and completing them (which will help you build your confidence and show you that you are capable of reaching your goals).
  • Challenging negative thoughts when they appear and replacing them with positive ones.
  • Improving your current lifestyle by focusing on healthier habits.
  • Refusing to compare yourself to others (only focusing on your progress and personal journey).
  • Being kind to yourself and remembering that no one is perfect.
  • Focusing on your mental health and wellness.

Improving Your Relationships

Sometimes, all we need is the reassurance from one person that we’re not a burden. However, fear or uncertainty can cause you to maintain your beliefs without ever reaching out to someone. To help combat these feelings, try reaching out to those closest to you and express how you’re feeling. Speak with them about these difficult feelings and let them reassure you. Then, work on building those relationships so that more communication and love are being shared between you and the other person. When you feel actively loved and appreciated by another person, you may be less likely to feed into those thoughts of being a burden to someone else. If you are not able to talk to someone, consider speaking with a licensed counselor.

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Getting Help For Mental Illness

If your mental health is not as strong as it should be and you are experiencing one of the mental illnesses referenced in the first section of this article, reaching out to a therapist can provide you with the help you need to get treatment for your mental illness, figure out how you can better cope with the symptoms, and move forward from these feelings that you are experiencing. For the most part, you may have access to counseling resources near you. In some situations, however, you may not be able to access these resources and receive the help you need. This is where online counseling platforms offer solutions.

For example, BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that connects users to licensed counselors, available wherever you have an internet connection. Some people prefer face-to-face therapy; others enjoy the privacy that online counseling offers. Whether you are limited to counseling options near you or find online counseling more convenient, the therapists at BetterHelp are ready to help you when you need it.

Feeling like a burden can have a huge impact on your self-perception and mental health. However, these feelings are rarely justified or true. If you are feeling like a burden to those around you, consider the points above, look for resources that can support you, and seek out ways that you can begin realizing just how worthy and loved you truly are.


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