Boys who think they're skinny have higher depression risk

Body image issues aren’t a problem only for women. Teenage boys are also affected, and new studies suggest that boys who view themselves as too thin are more likely to be depressed.

The studies, published in Psychology of Men & Masculinity, were conducted by psychologist Aaron Blashill and a team at Massachusetts General Hospital. The researchers found that bullied teenage boys who think they’re too skinny are more likely to use steroids and be depressed, compared to other teenage boys—even those who think they’re overweight.

In a sample of 2,139 16-year-old boys, researchers surveyed the individuals over a 13-year period beginning in 1996. The boys answered three surveys every six years that evaluated their depression, body image, and BMI. The analysis showed that boys who viewed themselves as too skinny—but were average size in reality—were the most depressed.

The second study looked at 8,065 teenage boys in 2009. The results showed that four percent admitted to using steroids at one point and three percent thought they were underweight. Those who reported being underweight were more likely to be bullied and depressed, and often leading to steroid use.

These studies will hopefully help counselors or clinicians working with depressed boys, and make them aware of steroid use. The researchers noted that although there is no evidence-based effective therapy for treating boys considering steroids, behavioral therapy may be an efficient way to discourage them from using them.

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