Body Dysmorphic Disorder: The Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment Options

Body Dysmorphic Disorder The Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment Options main

This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

Everyone has some insecurities about their bodies. In a society where heavily edited pictures are the norm, it’s easy to feel inferior or ugly even if you only have a few minor flaws. However, most people are not in complete distress over their imperfections. Despite feeling insecure, they can still go about their daily routine without those feelings derailing their day.

However, people with body dysmorphic disorder struggle much more with this. They become fixated on their flaws to the point where their whole lives revolve around those imperfections. It is quite a distressing disorder and can completely warp a person’s self-image. This article serves as an ultimate guide to everything you need to know about body dysmorphic disorder, including the causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder is more than just being a bit insecure about your flaws. When someone has this condition, they become completely fixated on their imperfections, even if they are minor or unnoticed by most people. The imperfections will distress the person so much that they completely change their behavior and routines to prevent others from noticing them.

It is important to note that body dysmorphic disorder is not the same as an eating disorder. Someone with an eating disorder is primarily focused on their weight or body shape. Someone with body dysmorphic disorder becomes hyper-fixated on a specific body part. Some common examples of these fixations include:

● Skin/acne
● Nose
● Breast size
● Genitalia
● Hair

What Factors Cause Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

As of right now, there is no known cause of body dysmorphic disorder. However, there are many environmental factors that seem to influence the insecurities and fixations that distress people with this condition.

The primary influence seems to be unhealthy beauty standards set by society. As mentioned before, edited photos and videos make celebrities and influencers look much more glamorous and perfect than they are in real life. This makes ordinary people seem ugly simply because they don’t heavily edit their photos or utilize expensive cosmetics or surgeries that would give them the same appearance. Though many people are aware of this phenomenon, they still may not be able to help but compare themselves to these glamorous icons, despite the fakery achieved to create those looks.

The other major factor that plays a role in developing this disorder is criticism and pressure from friends and loved ones. Something as simple as an insult or someone pointing out a flaw can completely derail one’s mental health. Even worse, having a judgmental friend or family member who is consistently critical of one’s appearance could completely warp that person’s self-image. Therefore, if the flaw is pointed out often by others, the person may not be able to avoid fixating on it.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder The Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment Options

What Are The Common Symptoms Of Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

When determining if you or a loved one live with body dysmorphic disorder, it is crucial to understand that just having insecurities does not mean that one has this condition. Someone with body dysmorphic disorder is completely fixated on the imperfection, and that fixation will affect most areas of their lives. Though symptoms will vary depending on the person and the specific imperfection, here are a few signs to look out for:

● Frequently checking their image in mirrors or other reflective surfaces
● Or, conversely, avoiding looking at their reflection or images
● Frequently grooming or touching the imperfection
● Consistently asking for advice or reassurance about the imperfection
● Making attempts to hide the imperfection
● Compulsive behavior surrounding the imperfection (such as skin picking)
● Avoiding social activities or school and work to prevent being seen by others
● Constantly comparing their appearance to others
● Investing in expensive cosmetics and procedures to hide the flaw
● Frequently talking to medical professionals about hiding, improving, or removing the imperfection
● Low self-esteem or depression

What Are Some Treatment Options?

Though this condition can be quite distressing, there is hope. Body dysmorphic disorder is a treatable condition, and many have been healed from it and love their bodies again.

The primary treatment option is psychotherapy. A therapist can help someone explore their insecurities and distress and help them establish a healthier self-image. They can also help the person build the foundations of self-love and acceptance and learn how to healthily handle criticism from others.

Group therapy has also been shown to be effective. It can be much easier and more empowering to go on this healing journey when one can talk with others who have the same mindset or insecurities as themselves. This therapy can also help ease any sense of loneliness or isolation that a person may feel from trying to hide themselves from criticism or being seen.

Finally, mindfulness is another tool that helps people to love their bodies again. It encourages people with this condition to be mindful of their negative thoughts and to start replacing them with thoughts of self-love and confidence.

Final Thoughts

The societal pressures to look a certain way can cause long-lasting distress to a person. Imperfections are what make us unique and human and do not deserve nearly as much criticism as they get. Though body dysmorphic disorder can be highly distressing, luckily, there is hope and treatment available. Hopefully, this article served as a good introduction to this disorder so that you or a loved one can start looking for the treatment that you need. For further reading on body dysmorphic disorder, check out the link below:


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