Disturbed Body Image Care Plan: How to Help Patients with Self-Esteem Issues

Body image is how a person perceives and feels about their physical appearance, influenced by internal and external factors. A positive body image means having a realistic and healthy view of one’s body, while a negative body image means having a distorted and unhealthy view of one’s body. Disturbed body image is a condition where a person has a negative body image that affects their self-esteem, mood, behavior, and well-being.

Disturbed body image can be caused by various factors, such as physical changes, trauma, illness, surgery, aging, media, culture, or peer pressure. Disturbed body image can lead to various problems, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, self-harm, or social isolation. Therefore, nurses need to be able to identify, assess, and intervene for patients with disturbed body image.

In this blog post, we will explain what disturbed body image is, what are the signs and symptoms, how to diagnose and treat it, and how to write a nursing care plan for it. We will also discuss how we can help students and professionals with research writing services related to this topic.

What is Disturbed Body Image?

Disturbed body image is a nursing diagnosis that describes a negative or unrealistic perception of one’s body, resulting in dissatisfaction, shame, or distress. Disturbed body image can affect any part or aspect of the body, such as the size, shape, weight, skin, hair, or facial features. Disturbed body image can also affect the function or performance of the body, such as strength, agility, or sexuality.

Disturbed body image can be classified into two types: body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and body image disturbance (BID). BDD is a mental disorder that involves an obsessive preoccupation with a perceived flaw or defect in one’s appearance, causing significant distress and impairment in daily functioning. BID is a less severe form of disturbed body image that involves dissatisfaction or discomfort with one’s appearance, but does not interfere with daily functioning.

Disturbed body image can have various psychological, social, and physical consequences, such as:

  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Negative moods and emotions, such as sadness, anger, or guilt
  • Distorted or irrational thoughts, such as overgeneralization, magnification, or comparison
  • Maladaptive or harmful behaviors, such as avoidance, isolation, or self-harm
  • Impaired relationships and communication, such as withdrawal, rejection, or conflict
  • Reduced quality of life and well-being, such as loss of interest, motivation, or enjoyment
  • Increased risk of developing or worsening other mental or physical health problems, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, or chronic pain

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Disturbed Body Image?

Disturbed body image can manifest in various signs and symptoms, depending on the severity and duration of the condition. Some of the common signs and symptoms are:

  • Verbal or nonverbal expressions of dissatisfaction, shame, or disgust with one’s body or appearance
  • Frequent or excessive checking, grooming, hiding, or altering of one’s body or appearance
  • Avoidance or refusal of looking at, touching, or caring for one’s body or appearance
  • Comparison or criticism of one’s body or appearance with others or with unrealistic standards
  • Seeking or undergoing unnecessary or extreme cosmetic procedures or treatments to change one’s body or appearance
  • Restriction or distortion of one’s diet, exercise, or clothing to control one’s body or appearance
  • Difficulty or reluctance in engaging in social, academic, or occupational activities that involve one’s body or appearance
  • Impairment or dissatisfaction in one’s sexual or intimate relationships due to one’s body or appearance

How is Disturbed Body Image Diagnosed and Treated?

Disturbed body image can be diagnosed and treated by using various methods and interventions, depending on the cause and extent of the condition. Some of the common methods and interventions are:

  • History and physical examination, which can help identify the possible causes and signs of disturbed body image, such as the patient’s medical history, medications, lifestyle, stressors, or trauma, as well as the patient’s vital signs, weight, height, body mass index, or skin condition.
  • Psychological assessment, which can help measure the level and impact of disturbed body image, such as the patient’s self-esteem, mood, thoughts, behaviors, relationships, or quality of life, using standardized tools, such as the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Questionnaire, the Body Image Scale, or the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.
  • Laboratory tests, which can help rule out or treat any underlying medical or physical conditions that may affect or result from disturbed body image, such as hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiency, infection, or inflammation, using blood, urine, or tissue samples.
  • Medications can help reduce the symptoms or complications of disturbed body image, such as antidepressants, antianxiety agents, or anti-inflammatory agents, depending on the patient’s condition and tolerance.
  • Psychotherapy, which can help address the psychological and emotional aspects of disturbed body image, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can help the patient identify and challenge their negative or irrational thoughts and beliefs about their body or appearance, and replace them with more positive or realistic ones, or dialectical behavior therapy, which can help the patient cope with their negative or distressing emotions and impulses, and improve their interpersonal skills and self-regulation.
  • Support groups, which can help provide the patient with social and emotional support, information, and resources, from other people who have similar or shared experiences or challenges with disturbed body image, such as online or offline forums, communities, or organizations.
  • Education and counseling, which can help the patient and their family or caregivers understand and cope with disturbed body image, and promote healthy and positive body image, such as teaching the patient about the causes, signs, and consequences of disturbed body image, the importance of self-care and self-acceptance, the influence of media and culture on body image, and the lifestyle modifications and self-help strategies to prevent or manage disturbed body image.

How to Write a Nursing Care Plan for Disturbed Body Image

To provide effective and holistic care for patients with disturbed body image, nurses need to develop and implement nursing care plans that address the patient’s specific needs and problems. Nursing care plans are systematic and individualized plans that outline the nursing diagnosis, goals, interventions, and evaluation for a patient. Here are some examples of nursing care plans for patients with disturbed body image, based on the NANDA-I nursing diagnoses:

  • Disturbed body image related to physical changes secondary to surgery, as evidenced by verbal reports of dissatisfaction and avoidance of looking at the surgical site.
    • Goal: The patient will verbalize acceptance of physical changes and demonstrate positive coping skills within 2 weeks.
    • Interventions:
      • Assess and document the patient’s body image, self-esteem, mood, thoughts, and behaviors, using standardized tools and scales, as appropriate.
      • Provide emotional support and empathy to the patient, and acknowledge their feelings and concerns about their body image and appearance.
      • Encourage the patient to express their feelings and thoughts about their body image and appearance, and listen actively and respectfully, without judgment or criticism.
      • Educate the patient about the purpose, benefits, and outcomes of the surgery, and the expected physical changes and recovery process, using simple and clear language and visual aids, as appropriate.
      • Assist the patient in looking at, touching, or caring for the surgical site, as tolerated, and provide positive feedback and reinforcement for their efforts and progress.
      • Teach the patient positive coping skills and strategies, such as relaxation techniques, distraction methods, or affirmations, to deal with their negative or distressing emotions and thoughts about their body image and appearance.
      • Refer the patient to other health care professionals or resources, such as a psychologist, a counselor, or a support group, for further assessment and intervention, as needed.
    • Evaluation: The patient verbalized acceptance of physical changes and demonstrated positive coping skills within 2 weeks.
  • Disturbed body image related to a distorted perception of body weight and shape secondary to anorexia nervosa, as evidenced by excessive dieting, exercising, or purging, and refusal to maintain normal body weight.
    • Goal: The patient will maintain a healthy body weight and develop a realistic and positive body image within 3 months.
    • Interventions:
      • Monitor and record the patient’s vital signs, weight, height, body mass index, and laboratory results, such as electrolytes, glucose, and thyroid function, daily or as ordered.
      • Administer medications, such as antidepressants, antianxiety agents, or nutritional supplements, as prescribed, and monitor their effects and side effects.
      • Collaborate with a dietitian or a nutritionist to develop and implement a balanced and individualized meal plan for the patient, and supervise their food intake and output, as ordered.
      • Provide a safe and supportive environment for the patient, and limit their access to potential triggers or harmful substances, such as scales, mirrors, or laxatives.
      • Engage the patient in cognitive behavioral therapy, which can help the patient identify and challenge their negative or irrational thoughts and beliefs about their body weight and shape, and replace them with more positive or realistic ones.
      • Involve the patient in recreational or leisure activities that can enhance their self-esteem, mood, and well-being, such as art, music, or gardening, and avoid activities that can emphasize or worsen their body image, such as sports, fashion, or beauty.
      • Educate the patient and their family or caregivers about the causes, signs, and complications of anorexia nervosa nervosa, the importance of maintaining healthy body weight and developing a realistic and positive body image, the need for medications and nutritional supplements, the proper techniques and precautions for dieting, exercising, or purging, and the lifestyle modifications and self-care measures to prevent or manage anorexia nervosa.
      • Evaluation: The patient maintained a healthy body weight and developed a realistic and positive body image within 3 months.

These are just some of the examples of nursing care plans for patients with disturbed body image. There are many other nursing diagnoses, goals, interventions, and evaluations that can be used for different patients and situations. The key is to use the nursing process, standards, and ethics, as well as the best available evidence and practice, to create and implement nursing care plans that are effective and holistic.

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