How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

You've probably heard of it before, especially if you've ever struggled with self-doubt or confidence; “Imposter syndrome” is a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud" or "fake." This can have a detrimental effect on an individual's mental health.

Though it is not an official mental health diagnosis, it is a common phenomenon that can occur in any area of life—from school and the workplace to relationships and even personal endeavors. People who have imposter syndrome struggle with feelings of inadequacy, especially if they are in high-stress or high-stakes environments, where they feel the pressure to constantly prove themselves or meet demanding expectations. Even people who are extremely competent at what they do can struggle with imposter syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is thought to be influenced by a combination of internal and external factors. On an internal level, individuals may have a perfectionist or a high-achiever-type personality. This personality trait can lead to unrealistic expectations and a heightened sense of self-doubt.

People with a tendency towards negative self-talk can also end up reinforcing feelings of inadequacy. External factors that contribute to imposter syndrome include societal expectations and cultural norms, as well as the messages and feedback that individuals receive from others. For example, an individual who grows up in a culture that emphasizes the importance of achievement and success may feel pressure to constantly prove themselves in order to meet these expectations. Similarly, someone who receives criticism or negative feedback from others may internalize these comments and begin to doubt their own abilities.

Symptoms of imposter syndrome include:

The impact of imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome has a range of negative effects on mental health. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, trouble sleeping, and a sense of isolation and disconnection from others. It can also make it difficult to make decisions or take on new challenges, as well as cause a reluctance to seek out new opportunities or ask for help.

Imposter syndrome often happens gradually and is self-perpetuated. The more you doubt your own abilities, the more you may feel the need to overcompensate by working harder or seeking external validation. This quickly leads to a cycle of perfectionism, burnout, and the inability to fully relax or enjoy accomplishments.

Fortunately, there are strategies that can help combat imposter syndrome and its effects on mental health. Here are a few helpful strategies to start with:

Seek professional help for imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a common and widespread phenomenon, but if it is left unchecked, it can have a detrimental effect on your mental health. Seeking the help of a therapist or counselor can help you explore the underlying causes of your imposter syndrome and help you develop strategies for coping with and overcoming these feelings.

If you or someone you know is struggling with imposter syndrome, Medens Health is accepting new patients in California and Nevada. Reach out to us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, send us a message using our online contact form, or to register as a new patient get started here.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.