How Do I Know If I Have Body Dysmorphia? Boosting Self-Esteem During Menstruation
It’s common not to feel your most confident during your period. Hormones can wreak havoc during the menstrual cycle, making your body feel different - and taking a hit on your self esteem as a result.
But what is body dysmorphia? How do you know you have it, and how can you feel better about yourself during menstruation?
Body Dysmorphia & Bloating Overview
Bloating may be one of the most common symptoms of pre-menstruation and menstruation, but it doesn’t make it any easier to experience. Not only is it uncomfortable, bloating takes its toll on our body image, too. During your period, major hormonal fluctuations can result in fluid retention and swelling, causing a feeling of bloating and discomfort.
Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is thought to affect 30-80% of women of reproductive age. While PMS is widely known, it’s not the only premenstrual issue. Body dysmorphia is a lesser-known period-related condition that causes people to be highly critical of their own bodies’ perceived flaws.
Usually beginning shortly before menstruation, body dysmorphia is a mental health condition that can last into the first few days of bleeding. It's characterized by irritability, intense sadness, difficulty concentrating and, in more severe cases, suicidal thoughts.
How Do I Know If I Have Body Dysmorphia?
People with body dysmorphia experience very negative thoughts about their appearance, and can spend hours every day thinking about the way they look. It can result in researching ways to change their appearance and hiding perceived flaws using make-up or clothing.
Severe cases lead sufferers to take time away from school, work or other responsibilities as a result of their poor body image.
Which Action Is A Well-known Symptom of Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
Body Dysmorphic Disorder - or BDD - is a mental health condition that presents itself in various ways. Intrusive, negative thoughts about your general appearance, or sometimes one specific area of your body, can lead to compulsive actions in an attempt to reduce your anxiety. Some of these include:
- Obsessively checking mirrors - or avoiding them completely
- Using a lot of make-up to conceal the area of concern
- Picking skin in an attempt to make it smooth
- Seeking cosmetic surgery to change certain areas of your face or body
- Changing your clothes a lot, or wearing clothes that disguise your body
- Repeatedly brushing or styling your hair throughout the day
5 Ways to Boost Self-Esteem During Menstruation
Menstruation can be draining, so remember to take time to do things that bring you joy or peace. It can be as simple as taking a warm bath, reading a favorite book or listening to uplifting music. Rest and relaxation are key in order to nurture your body and mind during this time.
It may feel a little uncomfortable at first, but speaking to yourself with kindness can help lift your mood and change your mindset. Practice saying "I am strong," "I am beautiful," or "I am capable," to reinforce a positive self-image. You can also write these down and put them in visible places as reminders throughout the day.
Wear comfortable clothing
It’s important to feel comfortable and confident during menstruation, so choose fabrics or designs that prioritize this. Soft, non-constricting clothing can help you to feel more at ease in your own skin.
Focus on self-appreciation
The menstrual cycle is an incredible and natural thing, and reflects what our bodies are capable of. Recognize this fact, and appreciate your body for its resilience during menstruation. Meditation can also be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, and bring us back to ourselves.
Low self-esteem can make us feel very lonely and isolated, and seeking support is vital in order to protect your mental health. Reach out to supportive friends, family members, or a trusted confidant to share your feelings and concerns. Identify positive influences in your life and surround yourself with them, so you can feel uplifted, encouraged and more confident.
Can you self diagnose body dysmorphia?
You may recognize symptoms of body dysmorphia in yourself, but a diagnosis should be given by a medical professional. If you think you’re showing signs of having body dysmorphia, always visit your health care provider. They will refer you to a mental health professional - usually a psychiatrist or psychologist - who can recommend the right course of treatment for you.
What are the two types of dysmorphia?
There are two subtypes of body dysmorphia: muscle dysmorphia and BDD by proxy. People who have muscle dysmorphia consider their bodies small and lacking in muscle. This is despite obsessive weight-lifting, which usually makes them more muscular than average.
BDD by proxy, on the other hand, is similar to body dysmorphia except it concerns another person’s appearance. People with BDD often spend large amounts of time (up to eight hours a day) thinking about the perceived flaws of another person.
How do I realize I have body dysmorphia?
People with body dysmorphia experience very negative thoughts about their appearance, and can spend hours every day thinking about the way they look. It can result in researching ways to change their appearance and hiding perceived flaws using make-up or clothing. Symptoms include obsessive mirror checking (or avoidance), using a lot of make-up, skin-picking and changing your clothes a lot.
If you think you may have body dysmorphia, speak to your health care provider, who can refer you for a diagnosis with a mental health professional.
What triggers body dysmorphia?
It’s not fully known what causes body dysmorphia. It can be down to genetics, a chemical imbalance in the brain or past trauma - for example being abused or bullied as a child.
Research has also demonstrated that reproductive hormones can influence mood and behavior during the menstrual cycle, heightening symptoms of BDD.
Final Thoughts on How Do I Know If I Have Body Dysmorphia
The hormonal (endocrine) system is hugely complex, and can affect mood, behavior and self-esteem at different points of the menstrual cycle.
If you find yourself deeply preoccupied with negative thoughts about your appearance to a point in which it is affecting your habits and behavior, it’s important to speak to your health care provider.
They will be able to refer you for a diagnosis with a mental health professional, who can advise you on a plan of action to help manage your diagnosis.