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  • Writer's pictureTerry Walker - NutriBro.

Love Yourself for a Healthy Mind

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

Self esteem and confidence play a huge role in your mental health. Finding stability, buildling self esteem and learning to trust yourself are hugely important to the functional wellbeing of your mind.

The origins and depths of mental health issues relating to self confidence can vary hugely among different people, ages, genders and weights. What is clear from the scientific evidence is that changing one's self imagery is difficult alone. With the help of a professional using evidence-based techniques and discussion points, it is certainly possible to increase one's self-confidence and efficacy.

"We have to learn to be our own best friends because we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies." - Roderick Thorp

BMI, Confidence and Mental Health - the Relationship

In 2007, McLaren et al. (1) took the data from a validated mental health study that included 5383 people. They dissected the data to measure the relationships between BMI and various types of mental health problems. Many of the results were not significant or conclusive. Generally there were relationships between BMI and mental health as to be expected, but no clear correlation across gender and age groups.

The results for men varied by age group, but can be summarised as: increased BMI relating to:

Mood Disorder

Anxiety Disorder

Substance Usage

For women, an increased BMI related to:

Mood Disorder

Anxiety Disorder

Interestingly, overweight and obese men were less likely to be depressed than normal weight men, and underweight men were more likely to have Anxiety Disorder. This suggests and confirms that men and women treat their body weight and image very differently. Potentially, women see overweight and obesity as bad and get anxiety as a result, whereas men see it as potentially having been normalised, and therefore are ok with the weight gain despite the health related issues. #obesity #overweight #weightgain #weightloss

In 2010, Ali et al. (2) looked at the differences between actual body weight and perceived body weight on mental health in young people. They found no relationships between actual body weight increasing and mental health issues increasing. They did though find a significant relationship between a perception of being over weight and an array of mental health issues which were more pronounced in women.

Other studies have confirmed the causality of stigmatization for being overweight and mental health issues such as depression. These can be lifelong issues as shown by Herpertz et al., 2015 (3). The authors studied 771 young people, they found that eating disorders continued from young children to teenagers and young adults. After accounting for external factors, the study found eating disordered children more likely to be overweight, obese and depressed in later life.

The study showed that mental health and disordered eating in early life continues throughout life and is important to be spotted and helped as early as possible.

What is the Solution to Self Confidence Issues?

In 2004, Brown et al. (4) wrote a paper regarding Self Confidence Workshops, with an educational perspective. They found that of 70 participants randomly allocated to either an educational workshop, or a control group with no therapy. The education based self confidence lessons led to a significantly less depressed and less distressed group than the control.

Alleva et al., 2015 (5) found in a strong meta-analysis that 48 behaviour change techniques were used among the research papers studied. Some of the key behviour change techniques that were associated with small but significant improvements in body-image are:

  • Talk about thoughts and impact on body image,

  • teaching monitoring methods of thoughts,

  • changing negative body-language,

  • using imagery and visualisation,

  • exposure to physical body,

  • estimates of the size and importance of body image,

  • underlying causes of body image thoughts,

  • the consequences of the thoughts,

  • behavioural expressions relating to negative thoughts.

It is therefore apparent that even with the help of a professional, self confidence and other related traits can be difficult to change. Often changing the underlying issue can solve the problem itself that leads to the self imagery issues. That is worth seeking out and can make the changes lifelong and deeply present, rather than a seeminly mindful trick covering a serious issue.

#selfconfidence #mentalhealth #weightcounselling #motivationalinterviewing

1. McLaren, L., Beck, C. A., Patten, S. B., Fick, G. H., & Adair, C. E. (2008). The relationship between body mass index and mental health. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 43(1), 63-71.

2. Ali, M. M., Fang, H., & Rizzo, J. A. (2010). Body weight, self-perception and mental health outcomes among adolescents. The journal of mental health policy and economics, 13(2), 53-63.

3. Herpertz-Dahlmann, B., Dempfle, A., Konrad, K., Klasen, F., Ravens-Sieberer, U., & BELLA Study Group. (2015). Eating disorder symptoms do not just disappear: the implications of adolescent eating-disordered behaviour for body weight and mental health in young adulthood. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 24(6), 675-684.

4. Brown, J. S., Elliott, S. A., Boardman, J., Ferns, J., & Morrison, J. (2004). Meeting the unmet need for depression services with psycho-educational self-confidence workshops: preliminary report. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 185(6), 511-515.

5. Alleva, J. M., Sheeran, P., Webb, T. L., Martijn, C., & Miles, E. (2015). A meta-analytic review of stand-alone interventions to improve body image. PLoS One.

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