Looking In The Mirror Can Spark Anxiety

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Looking in the mirror is a necessity when we get ready in the morning, but throughout the day, it might be problematic. While a brief glance may not cause a fit of anxiety, staring for up to 10 minutes will, a new study suggests. Even among healthy women who do not suffer from self-image issues.

Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry in London reported in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy that a study of 50 people revealed that looking in the mirror eventually stressed them out about their looks.

The goal of the study was to determine if people suffering with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD, an unhealthy preoccupation with parts of the appearance that sufferers deem unattractive) had a worse reaction to staring in the mirror than healthy people who said they were happy with their looks. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, about 1 percent of Americans suffer from BDD.

As suspected, people with BDD were increasingly anxious after looking at themselves for just 25 seconds. More surprising was that the healthy people showed signs of distress after several minutes. Usually, people who are happy with their looks focus on the parts they like when they look in the mirror, but people with BDD focus on body parts they don’t like, even if they are not seen as unattractive to the rest of society. But all of the study participants developed negative thoughts over time.

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