“People who struggle with imposter syndrome believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are, in fact, generally held” (Psychology Today, 2023). Personality traits can greatly impact an individual to feel imposter syndrome. For example, those who tend to struggle with perfectionism and self-efficacy are more likely to experience it. There’s a competitive vibe to the world we live in; it can be challenging to refrain from comparing our successes to others’. In reality, we’re all important and bring forth aspects that are vastly different from other individuals; there isn’t one thing that’s better than another. “Around 25 to 30 percent of high achievers may suffer from imposter syndrome. And around 70 percent of adults may experience impostorism at least once in their lifetime, research suggests” (Psychology Today, 2023).
Can imposter syndrome be diagnosed? No, imposter syndrome is not a psychiatric diagnosis and is not listed in the DSM-5-TR.* However, someone who experiences imposter syndrome may have a mental health diagnosis, such as depression or anxiety. It can be a real struggle to view your accomplishments as “not enough,” or you may not even see them as something that is an accomplishment at all because, in your mind, it’s not as good as someone else’s. When it comes to imposter syndrome, a lot of it comes down to your mindset, specifically how you view yourself and allow yourself to be compared to other people.
Imposter syndrome can be overcome with changing your mindset about your own abilities. One important key takeaway from imposter syndrome is that you need to acknowledge your expertise and remind yourself that you do belong in your academic or professional environment. Without confronting imposter syndrome, your ability to pursue and grow in your area of expertise could stifle and could also prevent you from pursuing new opportunities for growth, especially in areas such as relationships, work, or even hobbies. Overcoming imposter syndrome can feel lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. You can reach out to a work colleague, friend, or perhaps a therapist for support and to provide a safe environment for you to talk about what you’re experiencing. The point is, you are not alone and, if you have a support system that you can rely on, it’s helpful to reach out instead of feeling isolated.
Here’s a helpful video: https://youtu.be/u2zbcZBI0Do
*DSM-5-TR is the latest version of the diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals; it contains the criteria used to diagnose mental health conditions.
Psychology Today Staff. (2023). Imposter Syndrome. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/imposter-syndrome.