Feeling too skinny may lead to depression, drugs

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Washington, Jan 13 (IANS) You may not be as skinny as you think you are. Teenagers who think they are too skinny when they actually have a healthy weight are at greater risk of being depressed, says a study.

"Teenage boys who feel they are underweight and report being the victim of bullying are also more likely to use steroids and feel depressed than other boys their age," according to the findings reported by the American Psychological Association.

Also, boys who inaccurately see themselves as overweight are also more likely to be depressed than boys who think they are of average weight, added the study published in the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity.

"Teenage girls tend to strive for zero size whereas teenage boys tend to emphasise a more muscular body type. We found that some of these boys who feel they are unable to achieve that often unattainable image may be taking drastic measures," said Aaron Blashill, staff psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and faculty member at Harvard Medical School.

The research was based on two large, nationally representative samples of teenage boys in the US.

The first sample included 2,139 boys who were about 16-years old in 1996 at the beginning of the study and were followed for 13 years.

The second data came from a 2009 nationally representative survey of 8,065 ninth- through 12th-grade boys in the US.

"Doctors working with depressed teenage boys, particularly those who think they are underweight and/or bullied based on their appearance, should be mindful of the possibility of steroid use," Blashill suggested.

"Cognitive-behavioural therapy has proven to be effective for body image concerns and could be helpful for boys considering using or already using steroids," the study said.

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