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

Updated November 06, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers

Mental health challenges can make us feel like a burden. This can impact how we perceive ourselves, act, and allow ourselves to be treated by others. No matter how many positive things we are told about ourselves, we can still feel as though our existence is causing issues for others. Are you feeling like a burden? If so, you must learn just how important and loved you are. To help you do so, here is some information on why you may feel the way you do and how you can overcome 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 work through your feelings to see your true worth. However, working through those feelings may not always be easy, as it requires challenging your thoughts and facing your emotions. Here are some reasons 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 been solidified over time. If you suffer from low self-esteem, it helps to remember that you can overcome that belief and work toward being more confident.

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

Anxiety Disorders

If you struggle with anxiety, you may be worried that your symptoms are troublesome to those around you or that people may leave you because of them. While these beliefs are not rooted in reality, they are very real to the person experiencing them, and such beliefs may worsen existing anxiety. However, worrying about what others think of you does not always signify an anxiety disorder. To help you better understand if you are dealing with anxiety, here is a list of symptoms associated with this category of 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

Some anxiety disorders also include panic attacks, which can include 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 have an anxiety disorder, you will want to seek help from a licensed therapist. Therapy can help alleviate the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. It can also help you process the emotions associated with feeling like a burden.

Depressive Disorders

Individuals suffering with depression may also feel like a burden. Depression is a mental disorder that affects mood and self-perception, and which can lead you to believe negative things about yourself. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and sadness (although some people may experience emptiness or numbness instead of sadness)
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Having little appetite or eating more than usual (these symptoms may be accompanied by noticeable weight loss or gain)
  • Feeling fatigued and lethargic, which can cause you to speak and move more slowly than usual
  • Difficulty concentrating and maintaining focus
  • No desire or motivation to do daily tasks or engage in previously enjoyed activities
  • Agitation, anger, or irritation
  • Frequent thoughts of death or dying

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, please seek 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, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (available 24 hours every day).

Just as anxiety or depression may contribute to feeling like a burden, so may other mental disorders—for example, bipolar disorder or an eating disorder. And you do not have to have a mental disorder to feel like a burden: dealing with a health issue that makes you rely on others can lead to the same feeling. Whatever is causing you to feel this way, 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 to overcome feeling like a burden to friends and family members.

Building Up Your Self-Esteem

One great way to start working toward a life in which you do not feel like you’re burdening others is to build your self-esteem so you can recognize your value as a person. When we feel as though we have no value, it is hard to live our best lives. Fortunately, you can build your self-esteem up and become more confident about who you are. Here are a few ways to get started.

  • Repeat positive affirmations and point out things you love about yourself.
  • Create words of encouragement and kind reminders for yourself.
  • Spend more time with people who make you feel loved and appreciated.
  • Do things you excel at.
  • Set achievable goals and tasks, and complete them.
  • Challenge negative thoughts when they appear, and replace them with positive ones.
  • Improve your current lifestyle by cultivating healthier habits.
  • Refuse to compare yourself to others (focus only on  your own personal journey).
  • Be kind to yourself, and remember that no one is perfect.
  • Focus on your mental health and wellness.

Improving Your Relationships

Sometimes, all we need is one person’s reassurance that we are not a burden. However, fear or uncertainty can prevent us from reaching out. To combat feelings of low self-esteem, try expressing how you’re feeling to those closest to you. Speak openly to those you trust, and let them reassure you. Focus, too, on improving those relationships so that there is greater trust and better communication. When you feel actively loved and appreciated by another person, you are less likely to feel like a burden. If you do not have someone you trust enough to be open with, consider speaking with a licensed counselor.

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Getting Help For Mental Illness

As mentioned above, low self-esteem is a symptom of a number of mental disorders. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder, reaching out to a licensed therapist is an important first step. Therapy can help you cope with low self-esteem and other symptoms as well, so you can live the best life possible. When we think of therapy, we usually think of in-person sessions in an office at a nearby location. However, especially when you are not feeling great, there are times when it is difficult to attend in-person therapy. This is where online counseling comes in.

BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that connects clients to licensed counselors. It is available wherever there is an internet connection. The therapists at BetterHelp are ready to help you when you need it.

Feeling like a burden can greatly impact 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, therapy can help understand just how worthy and loved you truly are.

Online Therapy Can Help with Low Self-Esteem

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people reframe negative thoughts into positive ones, which leads to more positive emotions and healthier behaviors too. Research shows that (CBT) can reduce depression and anxiety and increase self-esteem. And CBT is just as effective when done online. In treating depression, a recent study found no significant differences at three-month follow-up between the depressive symptoms of those who received face-to-face CBT and internet CBT (iCBT). Another study found that those who received iCBT had significantly fewer depressive symptoms than a control group during a 10-week trial.

The Benefits of Online Therapy

As discussed above, online CBT with a licensed therapist is a great way to work on depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. But when you’re struggling with symptoms like depressed mood or low energy, it can be hard to find the motivation to leave home. This is where online therapy comes in. You can access BetterHelp’s platform from the comfort and privacy of your own home. In addition, online therapy offers lower pricing than in-person therapy because online therapists don’t have to pay for costs like renting an office. BetterHelp’s licensed therapists have helped people with low self-esteem. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people experiencing similar issues.


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