Our relationship with our body is the longest relationship any of us will have. It is normal to feel comfortable in our body most of the time, and to have some days when we really like our body and other days where we do not. However, some people spend most days disliking or worrying about their body (or parts of their body) to the point that it takes over their thoughts and how they spend their time.

For example, you might be distressed about the shape of your body, your weight, how muscular you are, or there may be a part of your body that you think is very flawed – for example, your nose or skin. These types of worries may mean you are suffering from poor body image or body dysmorphic disorder.

What are the signs and symptoms of Poor Body Image or Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

  • Valuing appearance highly; believing your appearance can make you more or less likable to others. You may also value others appearance highly and focus on their appearance, rather than personality, career, and interests. Your poor body image affects your self-esteem and confidence.
  • Constant worry about your body, which leads to checking your body frequently or comparing it with others, or on the opposite end; avoiding your body by, for example, avoiding looking in the mirror.
  • Frequent or extreme attempts to change, hide or improve your appearance, for example: spending excessive time doing your make-up or working out at the gym, dieting, using cosmetic injectables or plastic surgery, changing your outfits several times in the morning, and spending lots of money on clothes or cosmetics.
  • A inaccurate view of your body (not seeing your body as it actually is) which impacts negatively on your self-esteem and drives you to unhelpful behaviours. For example, dieting in the hope to lose weight, or having plastic surgery to change a perceived flaw.

How does Poor Body Image or Body Dysmorphic Disorder affect me?

  • You may spend a lot of time, energy, and money on trying to change your body, through things like dieting, cosmetics & fashion, or procedures. As a result of these efforts you may be constantly checking for desired body changes. For example, you may spend hours analysing your body in front of the mirror or comparing your body to others’, only to find that you are not happy with what you see.
  • You may develop an eating disorder as a result of attempts to lose weight.
  • Seeing that your body is not changing the way you want it to, despite your efforts, you dislike your body more and more, with this vicious cycle potentially impacting on how you feel about yourself in general.
  • Some of the extreme behaviours to try and change your body can lead to serious medical problems – for example, extreme dieting can cause damage to muscles and bones, and affect heart function.
  • Intense body dissatisfaction often means you avoid social situations, such as going out with friends. Or you attend these events, but do not connect with anyone because you are so caught up in your worries. You may experience distance in relationships.
  • An unhelpful relationship with your body tends to affect your mood. It is common to experience depression and anxiety.
  • Your ability to concentrate may be negatively affected because your attention is focused on your body. This makes it hard to do general day-to-day things, such as performing at work or holding a conversation.

How can I treat my Poor Body Image or Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

There are several well-researched treatments that are effective in treating Poor Body Image and Body Dysmorphic Disorder, including: Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT), Meta-cognitive Therapy (MCT), Online Guided CBT, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

How can Peaceful Mind Psychology help?

Peaceful Mind Psychology has a special interest in Poor Body Image & Body Dysmorphic Disorder, with psychologists who are very experienced and trained in this type of treatment. We also take a special interest in eating difficulties and Eating Disorder treatment. If you are experiencing Poor Body Image and or an Eating Disorder and would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.