What is Negative Body Image?
A person’s body image encompasses how they perceive their bodies mentally and visually. This includes thoughts and feelings about appearance and how one believes their appearance impacts various aspects of their life.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 1.7% to 2.9% of the general population — about 1 in 50 people every year (International OCD Foundation).
Some of the most telling signs of negative body image are:
- A preoccupation with body weight and body shape
- Body dissatisfaction
- Having negative emotions about your body such as self-consciousness, shame, guilt, or anxiety
- Routinely making negative comments about your size and shape
- Feeling unhappy or distraught over even the slightest increase in body weight
- Engaging in unhealthy behaviors to modify your body such as fasting or dieting, self-induced vomiting, laxative usage, smoking, or drug usage
- Intense focus on outward appearances
- Social avoidance
How Is Negative Body Image Harmful?
When a negative perception of how one looks is coupled with dieting or other unhealthy behaviors designed to improve appearance, there can be a risk to health and general well-being. These risks can be anything from poor self-esteem to eating disorders and more.
Negative body image can additionally lead to troubling mental health issues. Examples of some of the potential consequences of a negative body image include:
- Poor self-esteem
- Social isolation
- Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
- Health issues
- Body dysmorphia
- Muscle dysmorphia
- Poor job performance
- Academic difficulties
- Financial strain
How Body Image Therapy Can Help
We all have days when we don’t feel our best. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have a body image disorder. A clinical diagnosis by a qualified expert in mental health is required prior to beginning treatment.
Once diagnosed, those with body dysmorphic disorder will be provided with a care plan by their provider. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common and effective therapy for treating body image disorders. CBT is helpful in the treatment of body dysmorphic disorder because it focuses on changing the distorted or negative thinking that the patient has related to their perceived flaws in appearance. While addressing distorted thinking, a therapist also helps the patient to modify the ineffective behaviors related to their thoughts and emotions.
This way, you can begin to process how you view your body differently. A change in thought patterns can put you on the right path to self-love and fulfillment.
Consider Wellington Counseling Group for Body Image Therapy in Chicago
Don’t allow body dysmorphia to stop you from living the life you deserve. We have a team of psychological experts that includes specialists in this area of treatment and many of them also have a background in trauma. This makes our therapists especially skilled at addressing the issues that are leading to your symptoms and what makes them persist.
If you or a loved one is struggling with symptoms of body dysmorphia or an eating disorder, Wellington Counseling Group has the resources you’re looking for. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options for body dysmorphia and eating disorders.