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Body Image

How do you see your body? How’s your relationship with your body? These might seem like odd questions, but when it comes to your mental health and wellbeing, they’re important.

Body image issues are common. Most of us can find flaws to pick on and things about our bodies that we’re unhappy about. Body image issues are severe enough to qualify for a disorder called body dysmorphic disorders (BDD).  For people with BDD, body image concerns seem to dominate thoughts and emotions and limit behaviours. Worries may or may not relate to weight. If they do involve weight concerns and impact eating, an eating disorder may develop.

Whether or not your concerns about what you believe are defects in your appearance qualify for BDD, body image issues can severely impact self-esteem, overall mental health, and your sense of wellbeing. Bodily concerns seem truthful and cause you to see exaggerated flaws. Which, can lead to these ‘flaws’ defining you.  These are distorted beliefs, thus I would suggest you get help from a mental health professional.

Hot off the press

Two aspects hot off the press.

The first is I was interviewed by Kritin concerning eating disorders. You can see this interview on the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY8Mf5I2X_I&t=266s.

Linked to this is that I have written and printed a book on an experiential  journey with food. It is a self-help book that assists in obtaining a holistic relationship with food. Copies of the book can be purchased from me or from innercosmos.co.za.

Orthorexia

Have you heard of the eating disorders called orthorexia nervosa? It’s fairly new term and it is not yet an official disorder. It is, however, a real condition that disrupts lives and leads to negative health consequences. Orthorexia is an obsession with healthy eating that is so extreme it makes people who experience it afraid to eat almost anything.

Wanting to eat well for mental and physical health is a good thing. For some people, though, the desire to be healthy is ironically leading to malnutrition because they experience anxiety about food and its real or imagined health risks. How do you know if you’ve crossed the line between health-conscious and health-obsessed? These orthorexia signs point to a potential problem:

  • Spending large amounts of time analyzing nutrition labels, researching trends, and engaging in online forums  
  • Feeling physically unwell despite what you think is healthy eating, including digestive problems, low energy, skin and hair problems, and weight loss
  • Restricting your social life because of food concerns
  • Limiting your food intake to a small range of things you trust

If this describes you, you may want to talk to your doctor or therapist about orthorexia nervosa.

Mental Health Apps

If you have a smart phone, you may be aware that there are apps for almost everything, including mental health and wellbeing. Are mental health apps benefical, or are they harmful?

Mental Health Apps Can Help

If a mental health app is based on scientific research, it has the potential to do some good and help you overcome difficulties like stress, anxiety, and depression. Research-based apps often use one or more proven approaches to mental health like mindfulness, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and positive psychology. They offer interactive ways to help you recognize and overcome negative thoughts that keep you stuck, center your emotions, and choose positive actions in your life. When used regularly and sometimes in conjunction with psychotherapy, these apps can help you improve your perspective and give you tools to calm yourself in the face of emotional or situational upheaval.

When Mental Health Apps Might Harm

Apps aren’t substitutes for professional mental health care, and they can’t assist people in crisis. They also aren’t great for people dealing with severe mental illness.

Light and season depression

​People troubled by depression usually experience their dark moods in an on-again, off-again fashion. In that respect, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) differs only in that the oscillations follow a seasonal schedule, with depression usually starting in autumn and lasting through to spring. Lack of light is often blamed for SAD. Experts are still debating whether the lack of sunlight in winter triggers SAD. Light therapy, which involves sitting in front of a bright light for a short time each day, helps some people who suffer from SAD. But anti-depressant medications may work just as well. 

What happens if you use Marijuana?

​Marijuana affects each person differently depending on their biology, the plant’s potency, previous experience with drugs, the way a person uses the drug, and the use of alcohol or other drugs at the same time. Some people feel nothing while others feel relaxed or high. Others suddenly get anxious and paranoid (the link between marijuana and schizophrenia was blogged by me earlier). We are still learning about how marijuana affects the brain and how long the effects will last.
 
Regular marijuana use has also been linked to memory and relationship problems, poorer mental and physical health and less career success. Short-term effects include learning attention and memory problems, poor coordination, increased heart rate, anxiety and paranoia; as well as sleep problems. Long terms effects include becoming addicted to marijuana; long-term learning and memory problems; risk of chronic cough or bronchitis; risk of schizophrenia (as already discussed in a previous blog). 

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