Inferiority Complex: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Inferiority Complex: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

You could deal with an inferiority complex if you obsess over inadequacies that do not deserve happiness. The quality of your daily life might be severely hampered by persistent negative self-talk. Here is everything you should know about the signs, effects, and treatment of an inferiority complex.

Everything about the inferiority complex

Everything about the inferiority complex

Chronic low self-esteem or a severely negative self-image brought on by perceived inadequacies are symptoms of an inferiority complex. The American Psychological Association describes it as a basic feeling of inadequacy and insecurity. However, it is not a formal condition recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Another mental disorder or personality disorder


An inferiority complex is not a medical diagnosis. Alfred Adler, a physician and psychoanalyst developed the idea in 1907. Although the phrase became popular in some psych circles and pop culture, professionals and researchers usually refer to it as low self-esteem. 

A few signs are

  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feeling anxious or tensed
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Struggles with social skills
  • Poor work or school performance

An inferiority complex may trigger different behavioral responses depending on the person’s personality. To the outside world, they might:

  • Appear withdrawn
  • Seek attention 
  • Act nervous or anxious around others
  • Seem self-absorbed
  • Struggle to make friends or be in a relationship

These are the signs of an inferiority complex


An inferiority complex could stem from mental health issues like depression, anxiety, outside factors like negative societal pressures, or past trauma.

  • Risk factors

There needs to be more research on what causes an inferiority complex. But studies have investigated low self-esteem. For example, a survey has shown that over 6,000 teens identified several risk factors for developing a negative self-image. 

  • Experiencing trauma or abuse
  • Having an overweight or obese body
  • Watching TV for 3+ hours a day
  • Being Latinx
  • Being female

The survey also unearthed various factors that boost self-esteem. It makes sense to speculate that a lack of these supportive factors could likewise increase the likelihood of acquiring an inferiority complex:

  • Involved parents 
  • Success at school or work
  • Physical activity
  • Higher household income

In general, a collection of adverse external circumstances- abuse, unemployment, or dissatisfaction with your appearance- can damage feelings of helpfulness and inferiority. In addition, Self-worth can easily be damaged by racism, sexism, classism, and ableism. Bad media or internet representation can also undermine self-esteem. 

  • Depression

It can cause negative thinking and feelings of worthlessness. So naturally, the spiral of negativity, pessimism, and lack of desire could appear to be an inferiority complex if you are depressed. Of course, not everyone with depression exhibits the same symptoms, so if you suspect depression, it is always best to talk with a doctor. 

  • Anxiety

Not everyone with low esteem has anxiety. But many people who suffer from anxiety, particularly those with social anxiety disorder, deal with feeling inferior to others and believing that they don’t measure up. These are the causes of the inferiority complex

Long-term effects 

Long-term effects 

It is more than detrimental to think you are unworthy of love, happiness, and success. It is potentially destructive. Persistent feelings of inferiority can have a few adverse effects.

Anxiety and depression- A 3-year study found that low self-esteem is linked to a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression. 

  • Attention problems

The same study discovered that having a high sense of self helps prevent the emergence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. 

  • Suicidal ideation

A lack of will to live is a profound, sometimes fatal effect of low self-esteem, raising the risk of binge drinking and substance misuse. 

  • Social isolation

Some people shun social interaction because they feel inadequate. Unfortunately, this can devastate your professional potential, dating life, closeness, and the people you love. 

How do I get a diagnosis?

How do I get a diagnosis

A diagnosis of inferiority complex is not one made by doctors. Yet that does not imply that you cannot receive assistance. Speak with your doctor if you are experiencing poor self-esteem, powerlessness, or feelings of worthlessness. Tell them:

  • What have you been feeling
  • How often do you think that way
  • If the emotions are constant or whether specific persons or situations cause them.

Your inferiority complex may be assigned to underlying depression, anxiety, or mental health issues. Be forthright and honest so that your physician, therapist, or psychiatrist may, if necessary, make a diagnosis.

How to overcome an inferiority complex?

How to overcome an inferiority complex?

Many people struggle with imposter syndrome, insecurity, and low self-esteem. Realizing you are not alone is one of the first steps towards overcoming them. Reaching out to others, whether a friend or a therapist, can assist you in breaking free from the never-ending cycle of unfavorable self-talk.

Finding support for an inferiority complex will be beneficial. It is a brave step toward a happier, healthier life. 

  • Practice positive self-talk 

It is so easy for one negative thought to lead to another. Try complementing yourself instead than dwelling on your alleged shortcomings and weaknesses. With loving, compassionate self-affirmations, positive self-talk progressively helps you shift the narrative playing in your head away from self-judgment.

  • Get moving

Did you know that studies have found a connection between exercise and self-esteem? Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin, among other feel-good chemicals. So achieving a sweat is a success and tangible evidence of your inner strength and power. 

  • Try therapy

It is acceptable to seek professional assistance if you perceive yourself poorly. Your therapist can help you understand why you are dealing with feelings of inferiority, then provide various coping mechanisms. 

Those experiencing anxiety or persistent negative thoughts may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of talk therapy. You’ll discover new ways to manage your emotions with the help of CBT. For example, when your thoughts are inaccurate or unhelpful, you’ll be able to recognize why you think them and then come up with other ideas.

What occurs if an inferiority complex is left untreated?

What occurs if an inferiority complex is left untreated?

If you don’t deal with an inferiority complex, it can be difficult to forecast precisely what will happen.

  • You might miss out on potential relationships.
  • It may choose not to apply for positions or raises that improve your life.
  • You may experience more or worse symptoms if your inferiority complex is a sign of depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder.

In other words, if an inferiority mentality prevents you from being who you indeed are, what are you missing out on? Asking for help is rarely easy, but it is usually worth it.

No comments yet! You be the first to comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *