Is Being Hard On Yourself a Sign of Depression: Know The Link To Avoid Self-Doubt

For many of us, self-criticism and being hard on ourselves is a part of our daily lives. We all make mistakes, but when the negative thoughts become so overpowering that it affects our behavior and well-being, this could be a sign of depression.

It’s important to identify the signs that you may be struggling with symptoms of depression in order to get the help you need. In this article, we’ll explore ‘is being hard on yourself a sign of depression’ and the signs of being hard on yourself that could be a sign of depression and how to address it.

12 Major Symptoms of Depression

When feeling down, it’s normal to be a bit self-critical or hard on yourself. However, when these thoughts become excessive and start interfering with daily life, it could be a sign of depression.

Depression is more than just feeling blue; it has serious psychological and physical implications. Some of the common symptoms include

  1. Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness or anxiousness
  2. Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  3. Significant changes in appetite, weight or sleep habits
  4. Agitation, restlessness and irritability
  5. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  6. Fatigue and decreased energy
  7. Thoughts of suicide or death
  8. Persistent physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive problems or chronic pain that do not respond to treatment
  9. Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or guilt
  10. Avoidance of social activities
  11. Difficulty expressing emotions
  12. Self-criticism and negative self-talk.

Is Being Hard on Yourself a Sign of Depression – 6 Major Signs

Self-criticism and negative self-talk can be a sign of depression and can lead to a cycle of low self-esteem. If you find yourself being hard on yourself more often than not, it could indicate that you are struggling with symptoms of depression.

Here are six signs that you may be too hard on yourself:

1. Perfectionism

Being a perfectionist means striving to achieve the highest level of excellence in every task or activity while holding yourself to impossible standards. This can lead to feelings of guilt and shame when goals are not met due to unrealistic expectations.

Here are a few other related signs:

  • Setting unattainable goals
  • Obsessing over every detail of a task
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to succeed
  • Becoming frustrated with mistakes or failures
  • Becoming discouraged and unmotivated when facing challenges
  • Not allowing yourself any room for error.

2. Self-criticism

Self-criticism involves constantly evaluating your own performance, behavior and decisions in an overly negative light. It usually prevents people from recognizing their achievements or successes, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem.

Here are a few other related signs:

  • Constantly judging or comparing yourself to others
  • Being overly critical of mistakes and failures
  • Always expecting the worst outcome
  • Ignoring positive feedback from others
  • Internalizing criticism from external sources
  • Focusing on perceived flaws.

3. Unrealistic Expectations

Unrealistic expectations involve setting goals that are too difficult to achieve or expecting more of yourself than is feasible. This can result in feelings of discouragement and frustration as these goals become increasingly difficult to reach.

Here are a few other related signs:

  • Thinking you should already be good at something
  • Placing too much pressure on yourself
  • Not allowing yourself any time to rest or relax
  • Making excuses for not achieving goals
  • Disappointing yourself when expectations are not met
  • Refusing to accept failure.

4. Unhealthy Coping Strategies

Unhealthy coping strategies involve using food, alcohol, drugs or other substances to cope with difficult emotions. This can consequently lead to feelings of guilt and shame as these behaviors become increasingly destructive, making it more difficult to recognize and address the underlying issue.

Here are a few other related signs:

  • Using alcohol or drugs to numb emotional pain
  • Overeating or purging as a means of self-soothing
  • Engaging in escapist behaviors such as binge-watching TV
  • Avoiding responsibilities or difficult tasks
  • Withdrawing from social activities to avoid criticism or judgement
  • Resorting to negative self-talk or harsh inner criticism.

5. Disregarding Boundaries

Disregarding boundaries involves pushing yourself past your limits and not allowing yourself any time to rest or rejuvenate. This can develop feelings of burnout and exhaustion, as well as putting your physical and mental health at risk.

Here are a few other related signs:

  • Working excessively long hours without breaks
  • Taking on too many responsibilities at once
  • Ignoring warning signs of stress or exhaustion
  • Over-committing to tasks and obligations
  • Refusing to ask for help when needed
  • Not allowing yourself adequate time for self-care.

6. Unforgiving Attitude

An unforgiving attitude involves holding onto grudges or refusing to forgive yourself for mistakes and failures. This can cause feelings of guilt, shame and regret as the past becomes increasingly difficult to escape.

Here are a few other related signs:

  • Dwelling on past mistakes and failures
  • Refusing to acknowledge successes or progress
  • Always expecting the worst outcome for any situation
  • Judging yourself harshly for not meeting expectations
  • Blaming yourself for things that are beyond your control
  • Holding onto grudges against others.

A Horseman trying to Cross Barriers - Is Being Hard on yourself a Sign of depression

8 Negative Outcomes of Being Too Hard on Yourself

Being too hard on yourself can have serious consequences for both your physical and mental health. It can lead to feelings of guilt, shame and worthlessness, as well as damaging behaviors such as self-sabotage or unhealthy coping strategies.

Here are 8 negative outcomes that can arise from being too hard on yourself:

  1. Increased Stress: Being overly critical of yourself can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety, as your mind becomes preoccupied with negative thoughts and self-doubt. This can make it difficult to focus on tasks at hand or take pleasure in activities you once enjoyed.
  2. Low Self-Esteem: When you are too hard on yourself, it can lead to feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem. You may begin to belittle your accomplishments or focus solely on perceived flaws, which can make it difficult to feel confident in yourself or take pride in your achievements.
  3. Reduced Productivity: Constantly criticizing and berating yourself can lead to reduced motivation and productivity, as your perfectionism becomes a hindrance rather than a source of achievement. This can make it difficult to get things done in a timely manner or set meaningful goals.
  4. Poor Physical Health: When you are too hard on yourself, it can lead to poor physical health due to increased stress and tension. This can lead to insomnia, headaches, muscle aches and other physical ailments that can take a toll on your overall well-being.
  5. Heightened Emotions: Negative self-talk and criticism can lead to heightened emotions such as anger and sadness, making it difficult to regulate your mood or remain positive in difficult situations.
  6. Relationship Struggles: Being critical and unforgiving of yourself can lead to strained relationships with friends, family or partners as you struggle to express your feelings or trust in others.
  7. Mental Health Complications: When you are hard on yourself, it can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. This can become especially problematic if not addressed in a timely manner, as the symptoms may exacerbate with time.
  8. Loss of Self-Awareness: When you are too hard on yourself, it can lead to a disconnect between your emotions and your true self. This can make it difficult to identify and understand your needs or practice self-compassion.

5 Effective Ways How to Stop Being Too Hard On Yourself

Being too hard on yourself can lead to negative outcomes such as increased stress and poor physical health. It is essential to be able to recognize the signs of self-criticism and take steps to practice self-compassion instead.

Here are five tips for how to stop being too hard on yourself.

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings

It is important to acknowledge how you are feeling, rather than trying to push those emotions away or ignore them altogether. Try taking some time out of your day to sit with your feelings and thoughts without judgment. Here are a few relevant tips:

  • Recognize that it is okay to feel your emotions
  • Don’t try to push away or suppress your feelings
  • Acknowledge the source of your emotions
  • Identify and practice calming techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation
  • Avoid engaging in negative self-talk or rumination
  • Remind yourself that your feelings are valid and will pass in time

2. Practice Self-Care

It is essential to make sure you are taking care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Here are a few relevant tips:

  • Make sure you are getting enough rest and sleep
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise or mindfulness
  • Eat regular, balanced meals
  • Engage in activities that bring you joy
  • Spend time with people who are supportive and understanding
  • Find ways to practice self-compassion and kindness

3. Identify Your Strengths

When you are feeling down or unconfident, it can be helpful to take the time to recognize your strengths and accomplishments. Writing down a list of things that you are proud of or that make you unique can help to boost your self-esteem and remind you of the good in life.

Here are a few relevant tips:

  • Write down a list of your accomplishments
  • Acknowledge things you are proud of
  • Take time to recognize your strengths
  • Remind yourself of the good in life
  • Celebrate successes, no matter how small
  • Connect with others who share your values and interests

4. Talk to Someone

It is crucial to find someone you can talk to and be honest about how you are feeling, such as a friend, relative, therapist, or support group. Talking to someone can help you to express your feelings and gain a different perspective on the situation.

Here are a few relevant tips:

  • Reach out for professional help if needed
  • Talk about your problems with a trusted friend or family member
  • Join a support group to connect with others who are going through similar experiences
  • Ask for guidance from someone with more experience or knowledge
  • Consider writing down what you want to say before talking to someone about your feelings
  • Practice active listening when talking to others

5. Set Reasonable Goals

Setting unrealistic goals can put a lot of pressure on yourself and lead to feelings of disappointment or failure if you don’t achieve them. Instead, try setting smaller, more achievable goals that you can actually accomplish within a reasonable amount of time.

Here are a few relevant tips:

  • Break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks
  • Set realistic expectations for yourself
  • Give yourself permission to make mistakes
  • Allow yourself time to adjust and adapt as you work towards your goals
  • Reward yourself when you reach a goal or milestone

A Proud man with the Award


It is important to be kind and understanding with yourself. Learning to stop being hard on yourself can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression.

Remember to acknowledge your feelings, practice self-care, and identify your strengths. Moreover, talking to someone, and setting reasonable goals as ways of avoiding negative self-talk and finding a balance in life

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a disorder for being too hard on yourself?

Yes, self-injury is a mental health disorder where individuals engage in self-destructive behaviors as a way to cope with negative emotions or stress. It can include cutting, burning, scratching, or hitting oneself. These behaviors are often used to punish oneself or provide temporary relief from emotional pain.

Is being too hard on yourself a sign of anxiety?

Yes, being too hard on yourself can be a sign of anxiety. When someone is overly critical and judgmental of themselves it can lead to feelings of distress, low self-esteem, and an increased risk of developing anxiety or depression. It is important to recognize these patterns and find ways to reduce stress and practice self-compassion.

Which personality is hard on themselves?

The personality types ESJF and ENJF are more likely to be hard on themselves. These types tend to be perfectionists and are prone to feeling guilty or responsible when things don’t go as planned.

They can also put a lot of pressure on themselves by setting high standards and expecting too much of themselves. It is important for these individuals to practice self-care, set realistic goals, and talk to someone they trust when they are feeling overwhelmed.

What are examples of being hard on yourself?

1. Criticizing yourself harshly

2. Setting unrealistic goals that are impossible to achieve

3. Comparing yourself to others or feeling like you’re not good enough

4. Belittling your accomplishments and successes

5. Punishing yourself for mistakes or failures

6. Blaming yourself for things beyond your control

7. Holding yourself to impossible standards of perfection

8. Becoming overwhelmed by guilt or shame after a mistake

9. Being overly self-critical and not giving yourself credit for things you do well

10. Avoiding trying new things because of fear of failure

Are smart people hard on themselves?

Yes, smart people can be hard on themselves. It is common for those who are highly intelligent to set high expectations for themselves and feel disappointed or frustrated when they don’t reach those goals.

Smart people may also be more prone to perfectionism which can lead to negative self-talk and feelings of inadequacy if they don’t meet their own standards.

It is important for smart people to practice self-compassion, break goals down into manageable tasks, and give themselves credit for the successes they achieve.


Adrián Montesano (May 30, 2017). Depression and Identity: Are Self-Constructions Negative or Conflictual?

Roland Zahn (November 1, 2015). The role of self-blame and worthlessness in the psychopathology of major depressive disorder.

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