By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What we think about ourselves can have a big impact on our overall health.

Studies have repeatedly shown that if you have a poor body image, you tend to be at an increased risk to suffer from problems like depression and anxiety. It can even increase your risk of heart problems due to feelings of increased stress over time.

But perhaps the biggest impact of a poor self-image is the fact that you are less likely to take steps to improve yourself.

At first this might not seem to make sense because a logical assumption is that a person would want to make corrective changes. But poor self image can lead to a downward spiral of sorts – this can lead to poor diet choices and a lack of exercise.

It can become a cycle that is hard to break. Feelings of poor self image lead to poor choices, and even to a worse self-image.

In these cases counseling is an option that can be a big help.