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Body dysmorphia, or body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), is a mental health disorder categorized by a person’s inability to control their thoughts about perceived defects or flaws in their appearance.
This mental illness is characterized by an obsessive focus on nonexistent or minor flaws in a person’s appearance that are otherwise unnoticeable to others. These flaws may appear minor or imagined but may cause the person extreme embarrassment and anxiety. As a mental health facility in Boca Raton, we know that understanding body dysmorphia and how it affects people is crucial to helping those who are struggling with it. Below is some information about this illness, including its causes and symptoms.
What is Body Dysmorphia Like?
While most people can name a few things about themselves they may consider imperfections, BDD takes it a few levels higher. A person with body dysmorphia may spend hours a day obsessing over their imagined flaws or minor physical characteristics they may consider flaws. A person who struggles with BDD may go to extreme measures to prevent anyone from seeing these flaws or to hide them. They may wear a turtleneck in 80-degree weather or wear a full face of makeup to go swimming. People with body dysmorphia also tend to isolate themselves for fear of embarrassment or even rejection.
A person with BDD may avoid mirrors, constantly comb their hair, or never have their picture taken. They may undergo extreme medical procedures to cover up their perceived flaws. While it’s normal for people to identify certain things they may not like about their appearance, body dysmorphia is an extreme mental disorder that can take over a person’s life. Banyan Mental Health is a treatment facility that offers therapy that can help with BDD symptoms and programs for illnesses linked to body dysmorphia, such as OCD treatment.
What Causes Body Dysmorphia?
The specific causes of body dysmorphia are unknown. As with many other mental disorders, BDD can result from a combination of problems, including a family history of mental illness, brain abnormalities, abuse, trauma, and more. Subtypes of body dysmorphia include muscle dysmorphia and BDD by proxy. Body dysmorphia symptoms usually begin in the early teenage years and can continue into adulthood.
While the causes of this condition aren’t specified, there are certain risk factors:
- Family history of body dysmorphia or mental illness in the family
- Having an eating disorder
- Having obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Personality traits like perfectionism and obsessive behaviors
- Peer or societal pressure
- Existing mental illness like anxiety or depression
Common Signs of Body Dysmorphic Disorder
BDD stems from various emotional, psychological, and physical issues that can disrupt the quality of a person’s life. It’s a relentless disease that can take over every minute of a person’s day until they’re overwhelmed by their symptoms. Understanding body dysmorphia requires knowledge of its symptoms.
Common body dysmorphia signs and symptoms include:
- Avoiding mirrors
- Never having your picture taken
- Repeatedly brushing your hair or shaving
- Constantly touching or checking your appearance
- Wearing excessive makeup or growing facial hair to hide the perceived flaw
- Wearing certain types of clothing, like hats, scarves, or sweaters to hide the flaw
- Following extreme diets
- Constantly changing clothes
- Attending multiple doctor visits, especially with dermatologists or plastic surgeons
- Undergoing multiple medical procedures (like plastic surgery) to fix or eliminate the flaw
- Always seeking reassurance from others about your appearance
- Compulsive skin picking or picking at unwanted hair or blemishes
- Avoiding social situations to prevent people from seeing the flaw
If you or a loved one is showing signs of body dysmorphia, it’s time to get help. The best and most common way to recover from body dysmorphia is with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Some patients may also take medications if and only as prescribed by their doctor. You should not take any medications without a prescription.