Impostor Syndrome: Signs & Symptoms

At Reichbach Center, our experts believe everyone deserves relief and support during their times of struggle. That’s why we can help families and their loved ones navigate impostor syndrome with the right resources.

From college students to corporate executives, many Americans experience feeling like a fraud, which describes the phenomenon known as impostor syndrome. Despite one’s competence in their field or position, a number of social and psychological factors can contribute to impostor syndrome to create a different experience of reality that causes self-doubt and significant stress.

Over time, that mental and emotional state can take a toll and create anxiety and a potential for depression. While this phenomenon has become widely discussed regarding academic and professional achievement, impostor syndrome is not a formal clinical diagnosis.

Those who have common symptoms of this syndrome may begin to experience high levels of anxiety that they are unwilling or unable to recognize due to their general mental state, particularly in their academic or professional life.

It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms that attribute to impostor syndrome. These include:

  • Fear of expectations: excessive worry and guilt regarding the perception of success or failure from co-workers, classmates, or colleagues
  • Perfectionism: fixation on mistakes and doubt regarding abilities and expertise
  • Disbelieving one’s merits: downplaying praise, recognition, and other achievements as luck or a result of other external factors
  • Hypercritical: self-scolding over performance, even with good or average outcomes
  • Inaccurate self-perception: consistent inability to realistically gauge one’s own competence or abilities
  • Overachieving: a compulsive need to attain markers of success and meet challenging goals to prove self-worth

People with impostor syndrome tend to suffer in silence, rather than share their struggles with friends or family, for fear of exposing their inadequacy. As a friend or parent, it’s crucial to be aware of how impostor syndrome looks so that you can help support, encourage, and ground them as they process through these thoughts. 

Seeing a professional or expert in mental health disorders can really help people see clearly what’s going on and provide them with the right tools to overcome those struggles. If you or someone you love needs some relief, our experts are here to help you face tomorrow with hope.

To learn more, please call (941) 213-4444 or request an appointment online.