What is Superwoman Syndrome?

Superwoman syndrome occurs in women who believe they are capable of doing everything without asking for help. Over time, it can cause feelings of frustration, disappointment and stress. How can we fight it? Read on to find out!
What is Superwoman Syndrome?
Isbelia Esther Farías López

Written and verified by the philosopher Isbelia Esther Farías López.

Last update: 26 May, 2022

Have you heard about Superwoman Syndrome? Well, it’s quite common in women who play the role of wonder woman and can perform a thousand tasks without showing tiredness.
Before getting to know more about it, it’s important to clarify that, as of now, this syndrome does not appear in any diagnostic manual, nor is it a disorder, nor does it have any official recognition by the medical community.
So, why do we talk about this topic more and more every day?
The answer is that the number of women who are like this is on the rise. Therefore, the issue has gained lots of attention.

What is superwoman syndrome?

Tired woman suffering from superwoman syndrome.
In their eagerness to do everything perfectly, women with superwoman syndrome tend to burn out and have constant emotional exhaustion.

Similar to the superman complex, superwomen act as if everyone around them is incompetent. In other words, they are the only ones that can perform tasks properly. These women also tend to be very demanding of themselves, so they act in the way any great superhero would. They are strong, they appear invincible, and they appear to have the power to fight anything.
However, it is necessary to clarify that, far from being a fully positive thing, this syndrome can easily cause emotional exhaustion because some studies associate it with stressors. Therefore, as detailed by the research on the subject, when these women can no longer live up to their own expectations, they can experience guilt, chronic fatigue, ruminant thoughts, and even anxiety and depression.
So, before experiencing these negative symptoms, it’s best to self-reflect a bit to make sure we don’t suffer from superwoman syndrome. Although it may seem like a good thing, it can have very harmful consequences over time.

What are women with superwoman syndrome like?

Overall, among the most prominent features are the following:

  • They do individual tasks and don’t work well in groups.
  • They never delegate responsibilities. On the contrary, they feel proud when they achieve things personally.
  • They never ask for help, even in their worst moments.
  • Their ego is elevated.
  • Usually, they are proud women who never show signs of weakness.
  • They accept all tasks assigned to them at work, even if they are about to collapse or experience an emotional crisis.
  • They feel that, if they ask for support, they will be seen as weak or incapable.

Are there any advantages to being a superwoman?

Unfortunately, some women – and parts of society – find it advantageous to be a superwoman. Typically, this is due to the following reasons:

  • Feelings of strength and intelligence.
  • It is gratifying that others praise all the things that she can do.
  • It feels pleasant to be able to help others.
  • Improved self-confidence and motivation.

Of course, those around the superwoman also feel good sometimes, because she makes the lives of others easier by taking care of everything! However, this also many disadvantages.

What are the disadvantages of being a superwoman?

Woman feeling abandoned.
In addition to mental exhaustion, women with this syndrome may experience feelings of abandonment and frustration.

If you can identify with superwoman’s syndrome, it’s very important to now that this lifestyle can lead to many hazards, such as the following:

  • Always being available to others causes you to lose focus on your own work.
  • You can experience frustration because your strength and attention are focused on others.
  • Feeling drained of all energy, especially at the end of the day.
  • You may feel anger at yourself or notice an underlying feeling of abandonment.
  • Being left with little time for yourself after helping others.
  • You feel disappointed when people don’t value your efforts.

All of these things, if prolonged and combined with stress, can lead to significant mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

How do you know if you’re suffering from superwoman syndrome?

If you have any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from this syndrome:

  • Stress.
  • Difficulty getting to sleep.
  • Not feeling relaxed much.
  • Goals or objectives that cannot be achieved or are very demanding.
  • Inability to say “no” when you are assigned a task.
  • Anxiety for wanting to accomplish everything.

If you detect some of these characteristics, then you should work to achieve your own well-being, that is, try to change this pattern of harmful behavior.

How to treat superwoman syndrome

  • Recognize that you are human. The truth is that you are far from being a superhero. You must accept that you simply cannot do everything on your own. In doing so, you run the risk of getting sick.
  • Forget your impulses to control everything. As much as you try, things will not always work out as you wish. You must leave a space for uncertainty and for things to happen on their own.
  • Remember that everyone is responsible for their own life. Wanting to help others is fine, but it becomes harmful when you do everything for them.
  • Learn to delegate. Others can also perform tasks and they can perform them well. Do not act as if other people are incompetent. This will only limit their potential to grow.
  • Seek help if you need it. Getting some extra support and guidance from a therapist or psychologist works wonders for many people, no matter what the reason. If you feel like you need some extra support, never hesitate to ask for it.

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be amazed by your potential to experience tranquility. Focus on yourself and start prioritizing. It is possible to have a better quality of life.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Woods-Giscombé, C. L. (2010). Superwoman schema: African American women’s views on stress, strength, and health. Qualitative health research, 20(5), 668-683.
  • Heather, A. K. (2008). Young women constructing identities: Multiple subject positions and the superwoman ideal (Doctoral dissertation, University of Calgary).
  • Eastman, L. E. (Ed.). (2007). Overcoming the superwoman syndrome. Professional Woman Pub..
  • Salinas., D. (2012). Estrés. In Prevención y afrontamiento del estrés laboral.
  • Khoo, E. J., Aldubai, S., Ganasegeran, K., Lee, B. X., Zakaria, N. A., & Tan, K. K. (2017). El agotamiento emocional está asociado con factores estresantes relacionados con el trabajo: Estudio multicéntrico y transversal en hospitales públicos de Malasia. Archivos argentinos de pediatría, 115(3), 212-219.
  • Sumra, M. K., & Schillaci, M. A. (2015). Stress and the multiple-role woman: Taking a closer look at the “Superwoman”. PloS one, 10(3), e0120952.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.