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  • Hurting to Be "Perfect": The Risks of a  Negative Self-Image

    Getting WellIf you suspect a serious body-image disorder, you need to seek treatment. Experts at the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center say that the chance of overcoming a serious body-image disorder is better when the problems are identified and treated as early as possible. It's very important that if there are warning signs teens get some counseling in order to evaluate them further.

    Some treatment options:

    • Therapy: Psychotherapy can help. There are types of cognitive-behavioral therapies that can assist individuals with self-image problems.

    For some types of self-image problems, therapy may help people identify and change inaccurate perceptions that they may have of themselves and the world around them, as well as focusing on building feelings of mastery and competence in areas of strength. Focusing on one's life as a whole, including strengths and weaknesses, rather than focusing exclusively on perceived weaknesses can also help teens attain a more balanced outlook. Helping teens to see their appearance as a whole rather than one specific body part may further help with appearance related self-image problems. In some cases, exposing people to their underlying worries and fears in order to reduce their anxiety level, accompanied by resisting compulsive behaviors may also help.

    • Medication: There has been some success treating body-image disorders with certain types of medication. This is something to discuss with a psychiatrist.

    Our experts counsel individuals to try to be aware of what the root problem may be. For example, when chronic feelings of general low self-worth seem to originate from an episode of untreated clinical depression, it is important for the depression to also be treated. This treatment often combines medication and therapy.

    Self-image concerns and adolescence will always have a relationship. But, there is normal and abnormal image anxiety, and awareness is necessary to ensure a positive self-image

    Parents, teachers and peers need to help teens verbalize their negative feelings and concerns about their appearance. It is the first step in helping them to value themselves as individuals and recognize the importance of other non-weight, or non-appearance-based qualities and activities as contributors to their self-esteem and self-worth.