How your physical appearance can affect your mental health

Your body image is defined by how you perceive it mentally and visually. This includes the way you feel towards your appearance and how you think others see you.

When someone doesn’t treat their body well, it can have negative effects to their mental health. In this article, we explore the different ways in which physical appearance can affect your mental health, before looking at the potential solutions people turn to.

Types of mental health issues

Negative body image can have many different effects. It can lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders or body dysmorphia. When someone doesn’t have an accurate or realistic view of themselves, this is called a distorted body image.

Often when someone has a distorted body image, this can result in mental illness. Alternatively, those with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety are more likely to develop body dysmorphia. When tackling your problems it can be important to identify the root issue.

Negative body image can affect both genders

Historically it was considered body image and eating disorders were a female concern but in recent years there are more and more males dealing with body dissatisfaction.

Muscle dysmorphia is more of a concern in males than females and involves over-exercise and restrictive eating with the goal of improving their physique. The risk here is that body dysmorphia will lead to mental illness or substance abuse.

Cosmetic surgery is on the rise

Cosmetic surgery is on the rise and many have had positive effects when it comes to viewing one’s body image. Popular surgeries include breast enlargement or reduction and nose jobs. Studies show that 90% of people misunderstand cosmetic surgery though. If you’re considering cosmetic surgery, make sure you’re totally informed and that the surgery makes sense for you.

Seeking help for mental illness

Body image and self-esteem directly influence each other and your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. Everyone has challenges with their body images at times. Seek help, speak to your friends. Surround yourself with positivity and people who recognise your uniqueness and don’t put you down.

If you find that support from family and friends isn’t solving the issue then you might need professional help. Cognitive behavioural therapy, or short-term medication can help you gain control of your mental illness. 

Ultimately, our physical and mental wellbeing are entwined. If one side is unhealthy it’ll usually have a damaging effect on the other. By understanding this you can begin to tackle your issues.

For some people cosmetic surgery can have a positive impact. But for others, it could be that they need to treat a mental illness. By following the above advice you can move forward with any worries you have about your physical appearance.