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Living With Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Updated on May 31, 2018
Taylor Christian profile image

Taylor Christian is a 22 year old freelance writer from Shelbyville, IN. She hopes that her writing will help and benefit people.

What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental illness where a person obsesses over flaws in their physical appearance. The flaws can be little or imagined. A person with this disorder can spend hours a day trying to fix it. The person might even consider plastic surgery to fix the flaw. People with this disorder obsessively check their flaws in mirrors, compare themselves to other people, and avoid social activities.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 2.4% of American adults. In the United States, Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 2.5% of males and 2.2% of females. The Disorder most often occurs in adolescents and teens. It often begins to develop in adolescents 12-13 years old. These flaws could be anything from acne and blemishes to moles and freckles. The most common areas people with this disorder fixate on are hair, skin, and nose.

Symptoms Of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

  • Spending hours in front of the mirror obsessing over your flaws and trying to fix them or just avoiding mirrors altogether.
  • Avoiding social gatherings such as parties, weddings or crowded events.
  • Expressing hatred or disgust with your physical appearance or specific body parts.
  • Trying to hide the flaws with clothes, makeup, hats, or scarves.
  • Considering plastic surgery to fix the flaws.
  • Having thoughts of suicide or hopelessness.
  • Skin picking.
  • excessive grooming and exercise.
  • excessively changing clothes.
  • Depression, low-esteem, and anxiety.
  • Keeping it a secret from friends and family.
  • Constantly seeking reassurance from other people about your physical appearance.
  • Not believing people when they tell you that you look fine.
  • Thinking people are staring at your flaws when they're not.
  • Believing that the flaws in your appearance make you ugly.

Causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The cause of the mental disorder is unknown. However, certain factors that contribute to the the development of the disorder include:

  • Personality Traits
  • Child Maltreatment
  • Peer-abuse (bullying)
  • Malfunctioning of serotonin in the brain
  • Sexual trauma
  • Genetics

It is also suspected that people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder have parents or siblings with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Treatment

Body Dysmorphic Disorder cannot be cured but it can be treated. The two main treatments for Body Dysmorphic Disorder are: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Antidepressants. Evidence suggests that both treatments can help improve Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy helps patients stop having irrational thoughts and negative thinking patterns. They learn how to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

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