The Effect of Social Media and Eating Disorders

By: Sarah Cohen

Eating disorders are extremely serious and often deadly illnesses that include severe disturbances in eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. There have been numerous studies in which mass media consumption of the “thin ideal body” has been linked to eating disorders among women. Pressure from media has led to women and men internalizing the “thin ideal body” and led to extreme body dissatisfaction which can then lead to eating disorders. While the effect is smaller among men, they are still being subjected to pressure.

Studies have shown “significant change in the weight and size of female and male models portrayed throughout the media in western society and the concept of the ‘perfect or ideal body’.” This explains “why many adolescents are preoccupied with their bodies and dissatisfied with their body image and are willing to try a variety of dangerous weight-loss practices in their quest for the perfect body.”

Most people are usually not aware the amount of manipulation and digital editing done in the fashion industry to create ‘ideal’ female and male bodies. These false images encourage unrealistic and unhealthy standards that are impossible to attain. One study focused on body concerns in girls 16 years old and tried to understand the underlying motivations to be skinny. The element that exerted the largest pressure to be smaller was the media. Another study measured indicators of eating disorders in a population of young Fijian girls after the addition of Western television to their routine. The indicators of eating disorders were exceptionally more prevalent after extended television viewing, demonstrating a negative impact of media. A large component of the data recorded was the theme of subjects describing a new interest in weight loss as a method of modelling themselves after the television characters they viewed.

In order to prevent the effect of social media on disordered eating, here are three tips: choose what media you view and participate in carefully, limit the amount of exposure you have, and test each media’s message for body positivity by asking critical questions about what information they are attempting to spread.

If you or someone you know needs support with their marriage, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792687/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792687/

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/media-eating-disorders

Tiggemann M, Gardiner M, Slater A. “I would rather be size 10 than have straight A’s”: A focus group study of adolescent girls’ wish to be thinner. J Adolesc. 2000;23:645–59.

Becker AE, Burwell RA, Gilman SE, Herzog DB, Hamburg P. Eating behaviours and attitudes following exposure to television among ethnic Fijian adolescent girls. Br J Psychiatry. 2002;180:509–14.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

By Gabriella Phillip

Body Dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a psychiatric disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined or minor physical defect that other people usually don’t notice. BDD has various features that are similar to that of obsessive-compulsive disorders and eating disorders. Patients diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, have distressing thoughts and images that they aren’t able to control. Emotional distress that can result from this can cause a person to perform particular rituals or compulsions. Regarding BDD, the person’s persistent preoccupation with his/her perceived physical defect can lead to ritualistic behaviors including constantly looking in the mirror or skin picking. Similarly to eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, Body Dysmorphic Disorder involves a concern with body image. However, while eating disorder patients are concerned with body weight, those diagnosed with BDD are worried about a specific area or part of the body.

Body Dysmorphia affects approximately 2% of the general population; however, BDD usually goes undiagnosed so the number of people who actually have the disorder could potentially be much greater. Those with body dysmorphia oftentimes feel a significant amount of shame regarding their perceived flaws which may hinder them from seeking treatment. BDD prevalence differs by gender, as women are reported to have higher rates of this disorder than men. Factors such as living with a pre-existing mental condition like depression or anxiety or experiencing bullying or abuse during childhood or adolescence can increase the risk of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. The typical onset for BDD is between the ages twelve and seventeen, around the time when adolescents go through puberty and certain bodily changes.

Social media platforms like Instagram oftentimes feed us an interminable supply of filtered and unrealistic depictions of different people and their lives. It’s easy to compare yourself to well edited pictures of models, celebrities, and even friends online, making you feel as though you don’t measure up as you are. Also, various forms of bullying like body shaming or slut shaming can occur online and can easily result in distorted body image and low self-esteem. Those with BDD sometimes choose to socially isolate themselves due to high level of shame related to their bodily appearance. While social media doesn’t necessarily cause body dysmorphia, it can serve as a trigger for those already predisposed to the disorder, or could possibly worsen existing symptoms. The main treatments used for BDD are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medication, specifically serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Many patients use therapy and medication simultaneously. These treatments are meant to help reduce obsessive compulsive behaviors, improve stress level management involved in these behaviors, and aid patients in viewing themselves in a more loving and less judgmental light.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Self Esteem: Low Self Esteem and Comparison

Self Esteem: Low Self Esteem and Comparison

Self Esteem: Low Self Esteem and Comparison

By: Julia Keys

It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. We compare ourselves to others so often that they rarely even notice it. A social psychologist named Leon Festinger first proposed the social comparison theory in 1954 stating that humans look to others in order to evaluate their own self-image. Comparison is a necessary part of human cognition. We need to compare things in order to make choices. For example, imagine you are choosing between two different new cars to buy. One must compare the different traits of each car in order to make a well-rounded decision. Unlike cars, humans have unique and complex sets of experiences and genes, so comparing yourself to others isn’t logical. Unfairly comparing yourself to others is an unhealthy habit that can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of anxiety, and feelings of depression. Everyone has compared themselves to someone else at some point, but some people seem unusually preoccupied with it.

Here are some reasons why certain people tend to compare themselves to others frequently:

  • They feel like they have a lack of control over their life
  • Low self-esteem, low self-confidence, or low self-worth
  • History of being compared to a family member
  • Lack of self-knowledge/self-reflective skills

Ways to stop comparing yourself to others:

  • Limit social media use and when using, seek connection, not comparison
  • Take note of how often you compare yourself to others and mentally tell yourself to stop
  • Keep a journal with your own goals, aspirations, and self-reflections. Many times, people become so attached to certain ideals that they adopt from others that they forget to develop their own ideals. For example, if a child was told by his mother all his life that he must pursue a certain profession, they may be ignoring other career paths that they want to pursue. It is important to self-reflect so one can align their goals and behaviors to the wants and needs of their true selves.
  • If you do compare yourself, try to compare yourself to someone/something that is just slightly out of reach and well defined. When comparisons are general, one can get stuck in a rut of constant unfair comparisons instead of taking action and being able to achieve specific goals. Additionally, comparing yourself to something that is so out of reach can be discouraging. For example, if a woman compares body to an Olympic athlete, she is not setting a defined goal in order to be more like the athlete. In this case, it would be more helpful for the woman to aspire to be like her active friend who walks every day and schedule daily walks so she can exercise more.
  • Practice gratitude for your mind, body, spirit, and relationships
  • Only compare yourself to yourself, which is also known as internal validation. Internal validation is beneficial to your well-being and self-esteem.

If you or someone you know is struggling with low self-esteem or confidence issues, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

 Sources:

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-neglect/2019/05/5-reasons-you-compare-yourself-to-others-and-how-to-stop-it/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201711/the-comparison-trap

Source for Picture:

https://www.google.com/search?q=apples+and+oranges&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjE6d6ButfiAhXypVkKHRElCIUQ_AUIECgB&biw=1280&bih=610#imgrc=aoygGAqHovpj6M:

Psychosomatic Disorders

Psychosomatic Disorders

By Crystal Tsui

Psychosomatic disorder affects both mind and body and it occurs when a physical disease is exacerbated or caused by mental factors or vice versa. Psychological factors can cause physical symptoms when there is no physical disease. There are many factors that are involved with psychosomatic disorders, such as

  • Biological traits
  • Genetic and environmental factors
  • Family influences
  • Learned behavior

Some symptoms of psychosomatic disorders include:

  • Generalized pain
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

There are many physical diseases and conditions that are prone to be exacerbated by psychological factors. Some conditions include:

  • Hypertension
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dyspnea
  • Tachypnea
  • Tachycardia

Cognitive behavioral therapy is often the treatment for psychosomatic disorders and it helps individuals cope with their problems (eg. stress, anxiety, depression) and understand that their mental health is connected to their physical health. Most healthcare professionals try to treat the individual, taking into account the mental, social, and physical factors that may contribute to a disease.

 If you or someone you know has psychosomatic disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources:

https://centerforanxietydisorders.com/treatment-programs/psychosomatic-disorders/

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwib8_iSpLTiAhWtTd8KHQaAC_cQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.abc.net.au%2Fradionational%2Fprograms%2Fallinthemind%2Fhypochondria-and-psychosomatic-illness%2F6866448&psig=AOvVaw1o8-BXYZWCSksnlzsZPuSV&ust=1558791237650609

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: What is it?

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Body dysmorphic disorder is an intense and distressing preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in body appearance. Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder ruminate on their perceived defect for an excessive amount of time. Some body dysmorphic disorder sufferers may have a minor physical abnormality, but the preoccupation with it is out of proportion.

A common feature among those with body dysmorphic disorder is the tendency to engage in a compulsive or repetitive behavior. Common compulsive or repetitive behaviors include, checking of mirrors, excessive grooming and make-up application, excessive exercise, repeatedly asking other people how they look, compulsive buying of beauty products, and persistent seeking of cosmetic surgery. Sufferers often feel they are unable to control the behaviors. This can be detrimental to daily functioning and cause significant distress.

Although body dysmorphic disorder is seen in both men and women, the disorder is often manifested differently between the genders. Men with body dysmorphic disorder are more likely to demonstrate a preoccupation with their genitals, muscles, and thinning hair. Women with body dysmorphic disorder are more likely to have a co-morbid eating disorder, and have a greater preoccupation with weight, hips, breasts, legs, and excessive body hair. They are also more likely to hide perceived defects with make-up, check mirrors, or pick at their skin.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Griffiths, M. D. (2015, August 13). Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Retrieved May 8, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-excess/201508/body-dysmorphic-disorder

Eating Disorders & OCD: Is There a Relationship?

Is There A Relationship between OCD & Eating Disorders?

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Eating disorders and OCD are highly comorbid. Statistics estimate that about two-thirds of those diagnosed with an eating disorder have also been diagnosed with another type of anxiety disorder, specifically, 41% of individuals with an eating disorder also meet criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

OCD is characterized by recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are intrusive and unwanted. Individuals with OCD attempt to ignore or suppress their thoughts, urges, or images by performing some behavior (compulsion).

Obsessive-compulsive behaviors are also frequently seen in eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Some of the behaviors characterized by eating disorders can be considered compulsive and ritualistic, especially those performed in an attempt to remove the anxiety or discomfort associated with eating. Obsessions that could lead to compulsive behaviors include thoughts related to weight, eating, food, or body image.

Examples of compulsive behaviors commonly associated with eating disorders include excessive exercise, constant body checking, counting calories, frequent weighing, use of laxatives to reduce weight, and following particular “rules” or “rituals” when eating a meal.

Psychotherapy, medication, or both are typically successful in treating these disorders.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from OCD or an eating disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Ekern, J., & Karges, C. (2014, March 31). OCD and Eating Disorders Often Occur Together. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-for-eating-disorders/co-occurring-dual-diagnosis/ocd-obsessive-compulsive-disorder/ocd-and-eating-disorders-often-occur-together