Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a disabling mental health disorder with a high level of co-morbity with other mental conditions, such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Hair Pulling Disorder, Social Phobia and Depression. A person with Body Dysmorphic Disorder can’t stop thinking about real or perceived defects or flaws in their appearance. In many cases, these defects or flaws are perceived as minor by others or are not even observable. But to the person with this disorder, these flaws majorly impact their behavior and psyche. It is common for people with Body Dysmorphic Syndrome to avoid social situations because their shame and anxiety overcome their ability to function.
When a person has Body Dysmorphic Disorder, they will constantly obsess over their appearance, often checking themselves in the mirror repeatedly or seeking reassurance from others. They often focus on one area and believe it to be extremely flawed or deformed. For example, a person may believe that he is going bald even though the hair loss is not noticeable to others or the hair loss is quite minor. The person may refuse to go out without a hat on, may avoid sitting directly under a light, have trouble leaving the house on certain days when he feels his hair looks thinner or less attractive, or invest in expensive hair restoration products and procedures to no avail, the preoccupation returns quickly. Another example of body dysmorphia is a female who views her own face as “too masculine,” pointing to her jawline or her nose as evidence of this problematic appearance. Others may view this woman as completely normal looking, or even attractive, but the person repeatedly looks in the mirror to check her appearance and cannot be reassured that she appears appropriately feminine. She may even seek out multiple cosmetic procedures to change the features she views as ugly or too large and never feel satisfied.
Treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder may include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication. Often, the types of interventions used to treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, such as exposure and response prevention, work well in the treatment of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. In the next section, we will review some common Body Dysmorphic Disorder Symptoms.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder Symptoms
If you’re wondering if you or someone you love has Body Dysmorphic Disorder, here are some common signs and symptoms to look for. A person with BDD will:
- Be so highly preoccupied with their appearance that it causes major problems with their social life including their attendance at work, school, or other social gatherings
- Avoid social situations altogether
- Seek cosmetic procedures with little to no satisfaction
- Be obsessed with a perceived flaw in their appearance that others don’t notice
- Have a belief that this small defect makes them ugly
- Believe that others take special notice to your flaw and treat you poorly because of it
- Constantly compare their appearance with others
While this list is not comprehensive, it gives you an idea of the common Body Dysmorphic Symptoms.
Potential Causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder
It’s not entirely known what causes Body Dysmorphic Disorder. As with many other mental illnesses, BDD can be a result of a combination of causes. These causes include:
Some studies show that Body Dysmorphic Disorder is genetic. People whose relatives have mental health disorders may have a higher risk of having BDD, especially obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Brain abnormalities in brain structure or neurochemistry may contribute to the development BDD. In particular, medications that affect serotonin levels seem to help reduce people’s symptoms.
Like many other mental health disorders, a person’s environment may contribute to Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Related Complications of Body Dysmorphic Disorder
With Body Dysmorphic Disorder, other complications may arise. Some examples of related complications of BDD include:
- Eating disorders
- Anxiety Disorders
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- Mood disorders such as Anxiety or Depression
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD
When Body Dysmorphia is present in the context of an eating disorder, the diagnosis of an eating disorder is made. Body Dysmorphia is a well-documented symptom of an eating disorder and it is not considered a separate disorder if the dysmorphia is related to weight or shape. If you struggle with any of these complications, I can help. I am a licensed psychologist in Miami with extensive experience treating the above disorders.
Do I have Body Dysmorphia?
If you’re asking, “do I have Body Dysmorphia,” review the list above. Do you have a perceived defect that you constantly worry about or ask others for their opinion about? Does this defect cause you excessive stress and prevent you from attending normal social activities like school or work?
If you believe you may be struggling from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, please reach out so that we can schedule a time to talk. You can overcome and triumph with Body Dysmorphic Disorder Treatment from a licensed psychologist.
If you’re seeking Body Dysmorphic Disorder treatment, you’re already on your journey to recovery. I have dedicated my life to helping individuals overcome mental health disorders. Please reach out to me to discuss how we can work towards your freedom from Body Dysmorphia.
I look forward to helping you obtain a brighter tomorrow.
Get Help with Body Dysmorphic Disorder in Miami, Florida
I’m Dr. Amy Boyers, a Clinical Psychologist in Miami who specializes in eating disorder treatment (all types including anorexia treatment, bulimia treatment, and binge eating treatment) and other long term conditions, including addictions, bipolar, and OCD. I offer personalized and sophisticated eating disorder treatment services, individual and family psychotherapy, family member support and education, in-home meal support, cognitive behavioral therapy, anxiety treatment, depression treatment, and much more.
I look forward to helping you obtain a brighter tomorrow.