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What Are the Different Types of Body Image Treatment?

By Valerie Goldberg
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are many body image disorders that can cause a person to feel badly about his or her body or harm that body. The type of body image disorder a person has can determine the kind of body image treatment that will be helpful. Possible causes of bad body image include body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia and simply low self-esteem. Treatments for body image-related conditions can include medication, cognitive behavioral therapy and group therapy.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a health condition that causes a person to become obsessed with his or her appearance. BDD can damage a person's mental health and social life, because a person with BDD may spend hours a day looking in a mirror or picking at what he or she believes is an imperfection. Some BDD suffers isolate themselves and turn down invitations to social gatherings because they feel so badly about their appearance. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one body image treatment often used to help BDD patients get their symptoms under control. Some people with the condition also benefit from antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications.

Anorexia is a dangerous body image disorder, because people with this condition starve themselves to cope with emotional issues. People with anorexia develop a distorted body image and even when they begin to look sickly skinny to others, they may still believe they are fat — or that their "dieting" has allowed them to look good. Patients with anorexia may need medical care and a dietitian to deal with the physical aspects of the illness. Body image treatment involving both group and individual therapy sessions can help anorexia patients to work through the emotional part of the disease. It is important for people suffering from this condition to replace starvation and being too thin with learned positive behaviors.

Body image treatment also may be needed for people with extremely low self-esteem. Self-esteem simply refers to how a person views himself or herself. A person with low self-esteem may start to view himself or herself as too fat or too thin and suffer from depression, isolation or extreme anger as a result. Meeting with a therapist and finding the core issue causing the low self-esteem is one important way to treat low self-esteem. A person who realizes he or she has low self-esteem also can practice positive at-home body image treatment by pointing out something positive about his or her appearance each day.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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