Woman looking sad in the mirror

Body Image Issues

Distorted Body Image Treatment at Promises

Body image issues and a distorted body image often go hand in hand with the conditions we treat at Promises. Clients struggling with trauma, eating disorders, addictions and intimacy disorders may also have poor self-esteem and along with that, a distorted body image.

At Promises, our dedicated staff helps people with distorted body image issues regain their self-esteem and experience personal growth. Since many clients with body image issues may also have other areas that need attention, treatment is tailored to address all of the client’s issues. Through one-on-one counseling and therapy in small groups, clients work toward self-forgiveness and self-acceptance, learn to tolerate and express emotions in more constructive ways, and develop trust and body awareness and ultimately, a more positive body image.

What Is Distorted Body Image?

Too fat, too thin, not appealing or sexy enough – people who find themselves trying to live up to an impossible ideal may spiral downward into depression, anxiety, anger and self-loathing. Besides affecting their view of themselves, this increasingly negative image of their body may cause them to avoid social situations, interfere with relationships with friends and loved ones, and escalate into the development of body image distortion or serious eating disorders.

Body image is the way people see themselves and imagine how they look. A healthy or positive body image means that most of the time, a person sees themselves accurately and feels comfortable in their body and good about the way they look. It isn’t abnormal to struggle now and then with body image, but when the concern becomes a fixation and a person has a severely negative body image, it can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorders.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a psychological disorder that involves a misperception of one or more body areas. People with BDD believe they have a flaw in their appearance that, in reality, is very small or not even there. Specific areas of concern often involve the face or head, genitals, breasts, buttocks, abdomen, hips and thighs. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by an extreme fear of gaining weight. People with anorexia often feel their bodies are larger or fat, even though they may be underweight. Those with bulimia nervosa are also dissatisfied with their bodies, having an extreme concern over body weight and shape. The National Eating Disorders Association reports that around 20 million women and 10 million men in the U.S. will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their lives.

Symptoms of Body Image Distortion

When a person feels that they don’t measure up to the ideals of what their body should look like from family, friends or the media, they may develop a negative body image. As their dissatisfaction with their body increases, they may begin to display some of the following symptoms or behaviors:

  • Inability to see their body accurately, as it really is
  • Spends excessive amounts of time checking appearance in mirrors, applying makeup, doing their hair or trying to mask their appearance
  • Constantly seeks reassurance
  • Feels self-conscious or awkward
  • Feels ashamed of their body
  • Develops high levels of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem or self-disgust
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Takes risks with their sexual health
  • Cuts themselves off from social interactions and romantic relationships
  • Stops doing healthy activities where others may see their body
  • Develops or suffers from serious mental health problems, including anorexia, bulimia or binge eating
  • May develop substance abuse

Causes of Body Image Issues

How a person views their body and how they think other people see it begins early and is initially shaped by the family. Young people may develop a love of exercise and feel strong and self-confident growing up in a family that shares enjoyment of outdoor physical activity. On the other hand, children who are often criticized by their parents for the way they look may develop a negative body image. Other influences are at work as well, including messages about the “perfect body” portrayed in television, the movies, magazines, videos and online. Trying to emulate the way a certain celebrity looks may prove an exercise in futility and frustration. Bodies in the real world are much more diverse and unique than what is portrayed in the media.

A person’s body image changes as part of the natural maturing and aging process. As such, the way they think about how they look may also change. Critical body image times for women include puberty and menopause. Other times when a woman’s body image may change is when she is hurt, sick, disabled, or undergoing stress or emotional problems. Important body image times for men also include puberty, mid-life transitions and times of emotional stress.

Take Back Your Life

If you’re struggling with body image distortion and co-occurring substance abuse or eating disorders we can help. Get the expert treatment needed to move beyond these issues, learn to accept yourself, and live a satisfying, healthy life. Call us today: 844-876-5568

To learn more about Body Image Issues, call 844-876-5568

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