Body Dysmorphia

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For some individuals, negative thoughts about appearance, discomfort or incompatibility within the body, and body image can be incessant to the point that the overall quality of life is negatively affected. For the person who might be struggling with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, thoughts about perceived defects in one’s physical experience can be all-consuming, making it feel impossible to focus time and energy on anything else. Those delivering care at Aloria understand the range and complexities associated with body dysmorphia and are confident in approaching all necessary aspects of care.

Body dysmorphia is a condition that is characterized by intrusive preoccupations with perceived flaws or experienced incongruences about one’s body. While these imperfections may be a sensory experience, imagined or perhaps even unnoticed by others, an individual with body dysmorphic disorder will feel severe emotional distress over their body. This can impair a person’s ability to function in normal activities and daily responsibilities.

Body dysmorphic disorder can occur and develop in individuals, regardless of gender, background, or age. While the direct causes remain unclear, research has indicated that body dysmorphic disorder may be influenced by a combination of both environmental and biological factors. According to the American Psychiatric Association, body dysmorphic disorder most commonly develops in early adolescents and teenage years.

Signs and Symptoms of Body Dysmorphia

Body dysmorphia may be difficult to distinguish, often because the individuals who are suffering may feel ashamed about themselves or uncertain about how to ask for help. Understanding the common signs and symptoms associated with body dysmorphia can better help identify this condition as well as support an individual who may need professional care.

Individuals who suffer with body dysmorphia may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

  • Excessive grooming or time spent on appearance
  • Constantly body checking in mirrors
  • Picking or prodding at skin
  • Seeking out unnecessary surgeries to correct perceived flaws
  • Engaging in compulsive or repetitive behaviors to hide or improve appearance
  • Covering skin/body with makeup, clothes, hats, etc.
  • Constantly changing clothes/outfits
  • Comparing and contrasting body and appearance to others
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty with interpersonal relationships
  • Self-harm or suicidal ideations/intentions

Body dysmorphia can co-occur with other mental illnesses, including other eating disorders, mood disorders, substance abuse, and trauma. Because of the complexity of this issue, seeking professional care from an understanding and educated team can be crucial.

References

[1]: American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (5th Edition). Washington, DC.