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Recognizing Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Updated on August 26, 2015

Everyone feels self conscious over something in their appearance; especially younger generations growing into adulthood. It might be their face, chest, height or more commonly their weight. While being self conscious is a normal occurrence it can also be a sign of a more serious underlying issue. With social media and celebrities, as well as commercials for makeup and clothing telling you that you need to look or act a certain way, it influences in not only positive but negative ways as well. It's not uncommon to feel dissatisfied by the way you look. Everyone in some point in their lives whether they admit it or not has been. For some it becomes more serious where they become so focused on their appearance they notice or imagine even the slightest minor imperfection in themselves. This can be a sign of a Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder or Body Dysmorphia is a chronic mental disorder in which a person becomes consumed in what they portray as their body image. This can result in low self esteem and avoiding social situations such as work or school, and in some cases it may prevent a person from even leaving their home. It affects both men and women beginning in their early teen years and ranging till early adulthood. While there is no known cause for BDD theories suggest it involves a problem with certain neurotransmitters in the brain which is supported based on its similarities and signs of other mental disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive (OCD), Social Anxiety Disorder, Depression as well as Eating Disorders like Bulimia and Anorexia. Other influences and triggers for BDD may include the experience of emotional or traumatic events during the childhood or Bullying by other's. Common concerns may include imperfections in the skin (wrinkles, acne, scars) , facial features (shape or size of nose or any other feature) , and body weight being the most recognized symptom. Other examples include:

  • Camouflaging or covering the body with clothing, makeup or even body position.

  • Checking frequently in mirror or avoiding mirrors completely.

  • Excessive grooming or changing of clothes.

  • Excessive exercising.

  • Needing constant reassurance that the defect is not obvious or visible.

If you or someone you known experience these symptoms there is help out there!

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is generally treated through therapy and medication.

Psychotherapy, a type of one on one therapy focuses on changing the thinking and behavioral aspects by minimizing the compulsive behavior. Other therapy includes Group or Family therapy in which this disorder is discussed and everyone is educated on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of it.

Antidepressants can be prescribed to help with the anxiety and depression and have been shown to have promising results in the treatment of BDD.

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