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'If body image is causing you stress, seek help': Barking and Dagenham GPs

PUBLISHED: 10:46 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:46 16 May 2019

Barking and Dagenham Clinical Commissioning Group's clinical lead for mental health Dr Raj Kumar. Picture: Steve Poston

Barking and Dagenham Clinical Commissioning Group's clinical lead for mental health Dr Raj Kumar. Picture: Steve Poston

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Barking and Dagenham GPs have urged residents to seek help if body image is causing them stress.

Nearly one in three adults say they have been so stressed by body image or their appearance that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope, according to Mental Health Foundation research.

Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday, has a body image theme this year, with GPs highlighting the symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and the support that is available.

A person with BDD spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance, which are often unnoticeable to others.

Barking and Dagenham Clinical Commissioning Group's clinical lead for mental health Dr Raj Kumar said: "If you spend a lot of time worrying about a specific part of your body, comparing your appearance to others or covering up flaws other people don't notice, it may be a sign of a body image disorder.

"Negative thoughts and feelings about our body can lead to varying degrees of anxiety, depression or even an eating disorder.

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"It can be very difficult to seek help for BDD, but it's important to remember that you have nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about.

"Seeking help is important because your symptoms probably won't go away without treatment and may get worse.

"I urge anyone who is experiencing negative thoughts about their body, especially if they are impacting on their daily life, to contact the free and confidential NHS Talking Therapies service on 0300 300 1554 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, or book an appointment with their GP."

Other symptoms include either looking at yourself in mirrors a lot, or avoiding mirrors altogether; picking at your skin to make it "smooth"; and going to a lot of effort to conceal flaws, such as spending a long time combing your hair, applying make-up or choosing clothes.

BDD affects men and women of all ages but is most common among teenagers and young adults.

It can seriously affect a person's daily life - including work, social life and relationships - and can also lead to depression, self-harm and even thoughts of suicide.

However, the symptoms can get better with treatment.

Visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/body-dysmorphia/ for more information, treatment options and available support.

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