Depression and Body Image Essay

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Depression and Body Image

American society places a tremendous emphasis on physical appearance. Many adolescent girls go to great lengths to achieve these unrealistic standards of thinness. Eating disorders have become a prevalent disease in Western society. Dissatisfaction with one’s physical appearance is viewed as a core feature of eating disorders. A negative body image is also a common feature associated with depression. There appears to be a link, although unclear, between depression and a poor body image.

Adolescence is a tumultuous period in one’s life. Bodies of adolescents are dramatically changing, and these physical changes are associated with changes in body image. Body image pertains to how individuals view and assign
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Current data indicates that the depressed girl experiences her body as less satisfactory, and she also views it as deficient along a number of other dimensions. The depressed girl experiences her body as less pretty, less interesting, sicker, weaker, clumsier, less useful, less familiar and more out of control (Rierdan, 1987). Depressed girls are particularly dissatisfied with their face, a primary basis of social judgments about attractiveness of females, and with weight, a major determinant of adolescent girls’ overall body image (Rierdan, 1987). It is possible that girls experiencing early onset depression have a body experience that is radically different from other adolescents. This could be attributable to biochemical dysfunction. This dysfunction could be reflected in symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, eating disturbance, and other bodily complaints. When body attractiveness becomes important in adolescence, the foundation may already be laid for these at risk adolescents to be less satisfied with their bodies and vulnerable to the lowered self-esteem associated with eating disorders (Reirdan, 1988). Very simply, adolescence is a critical time in emotional development. As their body changes, adolescents are faced with the complicated task of reorganizing their body image. For some teenagers, especially those with depression, this proves to be a difficult task.

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