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Unravelling the Threads of Self-Esteem in ADHD: A Neuroscientific and Sociocultural Perspective


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Let's start with the basics. Self-esteem is our emotional evaluation of our own worth. It's like looking in a mirror - not a physical one, but a psychological one. This mirror reflects how we view ourselves, positively or negatively.


Why is this mirror so important, you ask? Well, it shapes our mental and emotional well-being. High self-esteem can be the wind beneath our wings, while low self-esteem can feel like carrying a heavy backpack uphill. In this blog we will discuss the barriers and social structures that impact maintaining healthy self-esteem for people with ADHD.


What is Self Esteem?

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When we think about self-esteem, we often imagine it as a reflection of our achievements, relationships, and personal beliefs. But did you know that deep within our brains, intricate neural networks and hormonal interactions are playing a pivotal role in shaping our self-esteem? Yes, that's right! Our brain is not just a cognitive powerhouse but also an emotional command centre.


One of the most critical players in this emotional drama is the amygdala—a tiny, almond-shaped structure deeply embedded in our brain. According to research by Newark, Elsässer, & Stieglitz (2016), the amygdala, responsible for processing emotions, plays a significant role in the development and maintenance of self-esteem. This is particularly important in individuals with ADHD whose amygdalae might function differently. But the story doesn't end there.


What influences self-esteem?


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Hormones and neurotransmitters—those microscopic messengers zipping across our brain—also have a say in our self-esteem. Imbalances in these chemical couriers can potentially affect mood and self-perception, thereby influencing self-esteem.


From a psychological perspective, self-esteem is influenced by various cognitive processes, including the way we interpret our success and failure, our perceived control over life events, and our belief in our ability to achieve desired outcomes. Emotional experiences, such as chronic stress or emotional abuse, can also significantly impact self-esteem.


Environmental factors, particularly during formative years, have a substantial impact on self-esteem. Childhood experiences, parental behaviour, social circumstances, and cultural values can either nourish or undermine an individual's self-esteem. The continuous interaction between the individual and their environment influences the dynamic process of self-esteem development and change.


Barriers to building and maintaining healthy self-esteem

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But let's be real, the journey to self-esteem isn't always smooth sailing. There are barriers that individuals with ADHD often encounter. Have you ever had someone question your diagnosis, leaving you doubting yourself? Or perhaps you've grappled with low frustration tolerance, struggling to manage setbacks. These individual experiences can chip away at your self-esteem.


And then there are cultural influences. In a world that often values productivity and efficiency, meeting these expectations can be a tall order for individuals with ADHD. This mismatch between societal norms and individual capabilities can lead to feelings of inadequacy, hindering the development of a healthy self-esteem.

Structural barriers such as difficulty accessing assessment, diagnosis, and treatment due to long waitlists or the expense of healthcare professionals can further impede self-esteem improvement. But don't lose heart! There are strategies that can help bolster your self-esteem.


How to build and improve self-esteem


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So, if you're living with ADHD, what can boost your self-esteem? The answer lies in supportive relationships, your accomplishments, and maintaining a positive perspective towards ADHD. These factors can help you paint a more positive self-portrait and contribute to healthier self-esteem.


One such strategy is mindfulness. It's not just a buzzword. Mindfulness, as described by Young & Bramham (2007), helps individuals become aware of their thoughts and emotions without judgement. It allows you to develop a more positive and accepting attitude towards yourself, manage stress, and improve focus and attention.


Mindfulness has been recognised as an evidence-based treatment for ADHD. Research by Zylowska et al. (2008) demonstrated that mindfulness training significantly improved attention and impulse control in both adults and adolescents with ADHD. This study suggests that mindfulness enhances self-regulation, an essential skill for managing symptoms of ADHD. Therefore, integrating mindfulness practices into daily routines could be an effective strategy in managing ADHD and improving self-esteem.


Remember, self-esteem is a complex and multifaceted concept, and individual experiences may vary. Don't hesitate to seek professional help from therapists or counsellors who specialise in ADHD. They can provide additional support and guidance in improving self-esteem.


In conclusion, while ADHD may pose challenges to self-esteem, with understanding and strategic action, these hurdles can be overcome. So let's embrace our neurodiversity, celebrate our strengths, and embark on this journey to improved self-esteem together!


Take Your Self-Esteem Journey to the Next Level!


Are you looking to further boost your self-esteem? We’ve got just the right tool for you! Our "Self-Esteem Boosting Workbook" is a comprehensive guide packed with practical strategies, mindfulness exercises, and self-reflection activities specifically designed for individuals with ADHD. When life gets overwhelming, our workbook can provide the guidance you need to navigate through the storm. Take control of your self-esteem journey today. Click here to download your workbook. Remember, every step you take is a step towards a more confident and empowered you!


References:
  • Newark, P. E., Elsässer, M., & Stieglitz, R. D. (2016). Self-Esteem, Self-Efficacy, and Resources in Adults With ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 20(3), 279-290.

  • Ramsay, J. R., & Rostain, A. L. (2008). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adult ADHD: An Integrative Psychosocial and Medical Approach. Routledge.

  • Young, S., & Bramham, J. (2007). Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for ADHD in Adolescents and Adults: A Psychological Guide to Practise. John Wiley & Sons.

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