Looking into a mirror and seeing all of your flaws, or what you think are your flaws, is a part of everyday life for those suffering from Body Dysmorphia. Spending your days obsessing over what you assume other people are thinking of your appearance, becoming transfixed on imperfections that may not even exist, and trying your best to hide your insecurities behind makeup, clothes, or procedures can be both mentally and physically exhausting. Many people have common insecurities, but it does not affect their day to day lives. Body dysmorphia, on the other hand, can make each day feel like a battle between your inner self and the reflection in the mirror. This article will cover the basics of what body dysmorphia is, how it is diagnosed, and how it is treated.
According to the studies, “Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental health disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can’t be seen by others. But you may feel so embarrassed, ashamed, and anxious that you may avoid many social situations” (Mayo Clinic, 2019). Body Dysmorphic Disorder goes deeper than just worrying about how you look. It is a deep-rooted mental disease with many triggers, including brain differences, genetics, and childhood experiences. However, even with that information, no one knows what causes it. On average, one in every 50 people will suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder in their lifetime. It is most often diagnosed in women and usually starts to see symptoms around the teenage years.
If you believe or think you may have Body Dysmorphic Disorder, specialists recommend that individuals see a professional such as their primary physician to rule out any physical possibilities (Mayo Clinic, 2019). Individuals will then be referred to a mental health professional and have a full physiological evaluation done to get a proper diagnosis. Studies have shown that the diagnosis is dependent upon risk factors and negative thoughts/feelings associated with the disease, a look at your social, medical, and familial history, as well as a comparison of your symptoms to those outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5 (Mayo Clinic, 2019).
Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder include:
- Being preoccupied with minor or imaginary physical flaws, which usually cannot be seen by others
- Having a strong belief that you have a defect in your appearance that makes you ugly or deformed
- Having a lot of anxiety and stress about the perceived flaw and spending much time focusing on it
- Frequently picking at skin
- Excessively checking your appearance in a mirror and grooming yourself
- Hiding the perceived imperfection
- Constantly comparing appearance with others to the point that it becomes your most significant focus or worry
- Constantly seeking reassurance from others about how you look and not believing them when they complement your appearance
- Getting cosmetic surgery but not being happy with the outcome many times
Hating your appearance is one of the most personal insecurities one can have, but there is hope for those suffering from it. Two of the most common and useful treatment options are medication and cognitive behavioural therapy, according to Women’s Health (Office on Womenshealth.Gov., 2018). Cognitive-behavioural therapy can help you pinpoint the negative behaviours and give you the tools to overcome them or change your mindset, putting you in control of your thoughts and feelings. In a way, it rewires your way of thinking.
Medications used to treat other mental diseases can also help treat Body Dysmorphic Disease. Common medicines used are SSRIs and antidepressants. Either route you decide to take, stay healthy and optimistic throughout the recovery. Individuals need to train their mindset to believe in their appearance’s positives, be confident of how they look and take the right steps to make them happy. Going through with any cosmetic surgery, as Women’s Health suggests, could make the disease worse, leaving the patient even more unhappy than before (Office on Womenshealth.Gov., 2018). Eva Fisher, a Body Dysmorphic Disease survivor, shared her story with the International OCD Foundation and said that knowing potential treatments and a name for the disease she had been battling made her feel empowered (Fisher, 2019). Fisher got the proper education and treatment plan to help her recover from her Body Dysmorphic Disease.
It is important to note that if you are suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disease, not lose hope and know that you are not alone. Seek the help you need and fight forward to one day have a better quality of life. Remember that you are beautiful inside and out, and this disease does not define you.
Office on Womenshealth.Gov. (2018). Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Mayo Clinic. (2019). Body Dysmorphic Disorder – Symptoms and Causes.
Fisher, E. (2019). How I Recovered from BDD. Iocdf.Org.