How Your Boobs Can Affect Your Mood
And we're not just talking about hating life when they get sore each month.
PUBLISHED: DECEMBER 8, 2014 | BY ZAHRA BARNES
Your boobs are obviously great. Anyone who has taken the time to look down, cop a feel, and appreciate her chest each day can tell you that. But depending on how your gals match up to each other, they can actually have a serious effect on your mood. Young women who have asymmetrical breasts (where one is smaller than the other) may suffer from negative mental and emotional effects, according to a study in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
The researchers studied a group of girls from 12-21 years of age. Out of the participants (all of whom were examined by a plastic surgeon at the start of the experiment), 59 had asymmetry by at least one cup size, 160 had macromastia (an overgrowth in both breasts, according to the paper), and 142 were the controls. The study authors explain that “mild to moderate differences in breast shape, size, and position in the developing adolescent are expected.” However, sometimes the difference is so substantial it can become an emotional issue that can interfere with your wellbeing.
The study authors from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School gave the subjects surveys to assess measures like their health, self-esteem, and eating attitudes. They found that participants dealing with asymmetry and macromastia both scored poorly in “emotional functioning, mental health, self-esteem, and eating behaviors/attitudes,” write the study authors. The girls with asymmetry also ranked significantly lower than controls in general health, social functioning, and emotional attitude. It’s also worth noting that the girls with macromastia scored lower than those with asymmetrical breasts in physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality, social functioning, and mental health.
Thanks to these results, the study authors conclude that asymmetry “is not just a cosmetic issue,” as it can have a significant effect on girls' self confidence, which can follow them into adulthood.
“Adolescence is a tough time," says Matthew Goldfine, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in New York and New Jersey. "With breast asymmetry, there’s a clear physical abnormality that can lead to a lot of frustration and hyper-awareness around the issue where you feel like everyone is paying attention to your flaws." At least with adolescents, there’s the hope that the breasts may even out as the body goes through natural changes. “When you’re in yours twenties and thirties dealing with breast asymmetry, you feel like this is how your body is forever and there’s something wrong with it,” says Goldfine.
And obviously, strong feelings about your breasts don't necessarily stop after your teenage years. The researchers note that these findings are similar to those seen in women who deal with asymmetrical breasts after a mastectomy. Clearly, it's not unusual for your body image, boobs, and brain to all affect each other.
If you’re struggling with negative feelings about your breasts for any reason, counseling may be the answer before surgery, note the researchers. Seeking out a doctor or psychologist to talk to can really help you get to the bottom of your feelings and reach a point where you’re happy with what you’ve got.
“Counseling can help a girl or woman dealing with breast asymmetry in a few main ways," says Goldfine. "One is that it can help her learn to accept her body the way it is, faults and all. Everybody has flaws! Second, it can also help her evaluate whether surgery is actually needed or not. Ultimately, talking to a professional can help a patient become happy with herself in the long-term."