how to overcome an eating disorder

Overcoming Eating Disorders and Body Dysmorphia

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health disorder in which an individual has obsessive thoughts around perceived defects or flaws in their appearance. Body dysmorphic disorder can affect both men and women, but for our purposes, we will focus on young women. Young people who have body dysmorphic disorder are intensely focused on their appearance and may repeatedly check a mirror or seek out constant reassurance. Their perceived flaws and the repetitive behaviors caused by the disorder can become very distressing and even impact their ability to function in daily life. 

The cause of body dysmorphia is unclear, but like many other mental health conditions, body dysmorphic disorder may result from a combination of issues, such as a family history of the disorder, abnormalities in the brain, and negative evaluations or experiences about their body or self-image.

Building Positive Body Image

While struggling with negative body image is not uncommon for young women, there are steps you can take to build a positive body image.

  1. Appreciate your body for what it can do. Think about the things you love to do. Maybe you’re a soccer player and you can appreciate your strong legs that carry you across the field. Maybe you’re artistic, and you can appreciate your hands as a creative outlet. 
  2. See the whole you. Instead of focusing on singular parts of yourself and over-analyzing, take a step back and see yourself as a whole. Remember that this is how people see you. 
  3. Make a list of the things you like about yourself. Create a list of the top 10 things you like about yourself that aren’t related to your weight or appearance. It can be your laugh or how quickly you can memorize a sonnet. Whatever it is, write it down and look at it often. Remind yourself that you are more than your body. 
  4. Create a positive peer circle. It is important to surround yourself with positive people. If your friends are spending their time critiquing their own appearances or the appearances of others, it creates an unhealthy environment for your mental health. Instead, encourage your friends to find other outlets for their energy, or spend time engaged in activities that you’re excited and passionate about.
  5. Disengage from negative social media. Have you noticed that after spending time scrolling through social media, you start to feel really bad about yourself? Maybe you find yourself comparing your life to the lives of those you see through the screen. Delete accounts from your social media that make you have those negative thoughts. Unfollow people who don’t add to your positivity as you work towards better mental health. 
  6. Seek out help. Body dysmorphic disorder is a real condition that requires real help. Shame and embarrassment about your appearance may keep you from seeking treatment for body dysmorphic disorder. But if you have any signs or symptoms, see your primary care provider or a mental health professional. Body dysmorphic disorder usually doesn’t get better on its own. If left untreated, it may get worse over time, leading to anxiety, extensive medical bills, severe depression, and even suicidal thoughts and behavior. Working with a mental health professional can help you on your path towards recovery.

Journey Home Young Adult Can Help

Journey Home Young Adult provides a nurturing, sober-living environment with a supportive community. Our relationship-based programming helps clients with therapeutic support, life skills refinement, and personal growth. 

Our program specializes in serving females and assigned female at birth ages 18-23 with emotional, behavioral, or mental health disorders. We work with people who struggle with a variety of presenting problems such as: depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, body image issues, ADHD and other learning issues, academic struggles, and low self-esteem. The emphasis with these young clients is to assist them in maintaining success in academic, vocational, social, and career goals and plans. For more information please call (855) 918-0032.