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Low Self Esteem, Relationship Issues, and Depression

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I guess I have problems with self esteem. I hold myself to absurd expectations even when I know rationally that I shouldn’t.
I seek unnecessary validation from people I shouldn’t, and then feel guilty about receiving validation.
I sometimes feel a compulsive need to be better than other people, and place myself under extreme amounts of pressure beyond my realistic capabilities.

I don’t have confidence in most if any social encounters without close friends, unless it’s during conversation that means nothing and is short.

When I’m with new people, I won’t really speak unless spoken to, and my brain just kind of shuts off, and I feel like I don’t belong.

I’m emotionally closed off, and deal with a lot of insecurity.

I don’t talk to anyone about my problems because I feel like I can’t, and I don’t trust them to not hurt my feelings or to not misunderstand me.

I’ve never dated ever, and don’t really know how.
I can’t bring myself to start conversations with women, or express sexual or romantic interest at all.
When women wink at me, I completely panic, lose everything, and I just leave as quickly as possible.

There are periods where I feel very depressed for no reason. Nothing happens to set me off but still, in the evening, for hours, I will lose all happiness and feel completely hollow, and all my negativity is exaggerated.
This happens weekly and it feels normal but I don’t think other people go through this sort of thing.
Does everyone just feel hollow at times?
This only happens during parasympathetic nervous system activation.

The rest of the day I fare well enough, going to class, going to the gym, making small talk about homework.

I tried seeking therapy at my college mental health center, and it reinforced the idea that there is nothing wrong with me.

Everything is explained by the fact that I’m a narcissist in a very competitive major (Aerospace Engineering) who is introverted, and I just need to get over my shyness, and the rest of the time I can function normally.
Everybody goes through tough times, so I can’t tell if psych help is something I really need.

What do I do? (I can access campus therapists) What do I tell them?

Low Self Esteem, Relationship Issues, and Depression

Answered by on -


You stated that you are depressed at times for no reason. This is akin to saying “that it rains at times” for no reason. We live in a perfectly logical world, as an engineering student, you should be willing to accept that fact. The biggest tragedy and failure in the United States aerospace program, was the explosion of the space shuttle. No one at NASA thought that the explosion was “for no reason.” There was an explosion and they search for and found the reason why. You have periods of depression and you should search for and find the reason why.

I have stated before that growing up is hard to do and, though that may appear to be a trite phrase, it is absolutely true. You are in a period of transition. It is a time that demands growth within your very being. It is a period of instability and should end with your transforming into a stable adult. It is a metamorphosis of sorts.

All of the things that you have described are typical of this period of time. Low self-esteem, shyness, feeling a desire to date but a great insecurity when attempting to do so, all of these things are common. You can attempt to deal with these things on your own, and you might succeed, or you can seek help in this process. If your car is not running right, you can try to fix it yourself and you might succeed but it is much easier with a far greater probability of success, to take that car to a professional, someone who is skilled and trained and experienced in fixing this type of problem. You are probably not familiar with automotive fuel injection or automotive computer diagnostic codes. I’m not suggesting that you could not learn these things but I am suggesting that it would likely take a long time and a great deal of effort. It is simply easier to take your car to someone who already knows these things.

Fortunately, you are in college and most colleges offer free access to their counseling professionals. I would highly recommend that you take advantage of that opportunity. Mental health professionals are no less skilled than mechanics.

If you feel it wise and acceptable and a desired course of action, to take your car’s problems to an experienced and educated automotive technician, I would think it reasonable to conclude that it would be similarly wise to take the problems that you’ve described to a counselor, who is also skilled and educated.

I am glad to have made your acquaintance, even in this superficial way and I hope that I have been of some assistance, if even in a small way. Good luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Low Self Esteem, Relationship Issues, and Depression

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Low Self Esteem, Relationship Issues, and Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 18 Sep 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.