There has been a lot of talk about "Thinspiration" since the Professor Green comment about his wife Millie Mackintosh and although the couple have gone on record to say it was a joke taken out of context, it made me question is the concept of "Thinspiration" inspiring or detrimental to our psyche? I would suggest at first glance, it is a bit of both. Obviously some photos are inspiring but a lot of photos just serve to make the viewer feel less than. Media case studies have shown a craze of people getting plastic surgery to feel better or combat depression but does it actually work?
It's a commonly known fact that body issues affect and can lead to depression. But what is actually happening?
Physiology of Depression
Depression has been linked to the area of the brain called the limbic system. This area regulates emotions, physical and sexual drives, and your fight or flight response. Also within the limbic system exist the amygdala and hippocampus which are linked to emotional response. The activities of the limbic system are so intricate that any fluctuation in neurotransmitters involved in it can dramatically affect one's mood leading to depression. Body issues are one such issue that can easily trigger a cascade of events that lead to a fluctuation in chemicals resulting in the chemical imbalance that has been thought to be one of the causes of depression.
'Keeping up with the Jones' is a big concern in today's heavily media driven world. Unhealthy body image is often accepted as the norm and allows issues such as distorted perception of one's body to arise. Peer pressure of what society determines is attractive in the perfect body can also invoke feelings of shame, guilt and anxiety, not to mention the fear of being alone and unlovable which threatens to strip one of their fundamental human emotional need of love and connection. It is no surprise one can make one's weight and body shape into a personal failure and any perception of failure stimulates a negative thought process which can very easily spiral into depression.
Should cosmetic surgery be used for depression?
It is concerning that with these new thinspiration pictures and case studies in the media about people considering cosmetic surgery to address their depression that social influence is not helping inspire one to make positive changes but backing them into a corner of quick fixes and peer pressure to conform to a standard that is not healthily achievable
I often say to my clients that a quick fix to any problem is normally not the most productive or long term solution. It is important to make changes but those should be considered and should start with internal psychology changes which in turn will affect the client's physiology. External changes do not address the internal issues and should be used as icing on the cake of a completed psychological or chemical treatment to depression and not instead of more traditional methods.
If a person's depression is paired with anxiety (especially in the case of free floating anxiety) it will not be long before the anxiety attaches to another part of the body. This results in the patient becoming more fixated on their body which in turn actually lowers self-esteem potentially creating more long term issues for the client both emotionally and financially as cosmetic procedures do not come cheap. It is important for the client to learn to be in control of themselves and to learn to shift their focus from any negative body issues and learn to be happy with the way they are before they start altering them.
Once they are through their depression the cosmetic surgery will still be available and then it can be a positive step forward and a procedure they choose rather than one they sought out to pull them out of their depression.
Positive action is a habit
Change can happen in a second but that's internal change and timing is everything. It is unlikely that a depressed person is going to be able to shift their psychology overnight. An external change such as breast augmentation will not address the chemical imbalance or the negative belief system that a person is feeling. There are coping strategies one can use to continually shift their focus and physiological state into a more positive one but none of these involve cosmetic procedures.