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Body Dysmorphia

Do I Have Body Dysmorphia?

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Virtually everyone has moments when they are less than impressed with how they look. But for people who have a mental health disorder known as body dysmorphia, dissatisfaction with their appearance is intense, constant, and the source of considerable emotional pain.

What is Body Dysmorphia?

Body dysmorphic disorder, which is commonly referred to as body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition that negatively impacts how a person feels about their appearance. It is important to understand that people who have body dysmorphia are not vain or conceited. They have a mental illness that causes them to experience severe psychological anguish.

What Causes Body Dysmorphia?

There is no single, universal cause of body dysmorphia. However, mental health experts have identified the following risk factors for this disorder:

  • Being abused or neglected during childhood
  • Being teased, bullied, or otherwise harassed during adolescence
  • Having a first-degree relative (meaning a parent or sibling) who has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Dangers of Body Dysmorphia

A person who needs, but does not receive, effective professional treatment for body dysmorphia may experience a broad scope of negative effects, including:

  • Low self-esteem and poor self-image
  • Frequent absenteeism from school or work
  • Substandard academic or occupational performance
  • Academic failure, job loss, and long-term unemployment
  • Physical injuries due to excessive exercise
  • Infections or other skin damage 
  • Medical complications due to multiple cosmetic procedures
  • Anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Suicide

Signs of Body Dysmorphia

As established in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people who are diagnosed with body dysmorphia must meet the following four criteria:

  • Preoccupation with one or more perceived flaws in their appearance, even though these supposed flaws are not noticeable or barely noticeable by others.
  • Significant distress and impaired functioning in one or more significant areas of life as a result of this preoccupation.
  • The preoccupation is not related to an eating disorder.
  • Repetitive behaviors such as frequently checking their appearance in the mirror, picking at their skin, asking others for reassuring comments, or mentally comparing themselves to others.

Someone who meets these criteria may experience or exhibit the following signs of body dysmorphia:

  • Becoming convinced that they are ugly, abnormal, or deformed
  • Being overly concerned with body symmetry
  • Fixating on what they believe to be blemishes or defects in a specific area of their body, such as their nose, skin, or hair
  • Grooming themselves excessively, which may include spending a disproportionate among of time combing or styling their hair
  • Obsessively trying to camouflage their perceived shortcomings with makeup, hats, clothing, or hairstyle
  • Being virtually unable to pass a mirror or other reflective surface without pausing to evaluate their appearance
  • Habitually avoiding mirrors or other reflective surfaces because of the pain they experience when they see their own reflection
  • Compulsively picking at their skin in a misguided attempt to fix what they perceive to be a flaw
  • Excessively exercising and/or strictly regulating their diet
  • Undergoing cosmetic medical procedures

Do I Have Body Dysmorphia Test

Do I Have Body Dysmorphia Test

The only way to confirm that you have body dysmorphia is to complete a thorough assessment with a qualified professional. Your answers to the following questions can help you determine if you should consult with your family doctor or another healthcare provider:

  1. Do you frequently worry about your appearance?
  2. Does thinking about how you look make you sad, anxious, or ashamed?
  3. Have your concerns about your appearance caused problems in your relationships or negatively impacted your performance in school, or at work?
  4. Do you believe that you are ugly or otherwise undesirable, even though your friends and family members tell you otherwise?
  5. Do you frequently seek reassurance about your appearance from other people?
  6. Are you certain that other people can see your physical flaws?
  7. Do you believe that other people judge you negatively because of your appearance?
  8. Do you try to hide flaws in your appearance by styling your hair a certain way, only wearing certain types of clothes, strategically using makeup, or other techniques?
  9. When you are with other people, do you mentally compare their appearance to yours?
  10. Do you typically avoid having your picture taken?
  11. Do you avoid certain situations (such as swimming in public or going on dates) because you are ashamed of your appearance?
  12. Do you wish you could get plastic surgery to fix flaws in your appearance?
  13. Have you undergone one or more elective medical procedures to improve your appearance? 
  14. Have you adopted a strict diet and/or exercise regimen to improve your appearance?
  15. Do you believe that your life would be better if you could fix one or more things about your appearance? 

No matter how you responded to the questions above, please remember that you cannot diagnose yourself with body dysmorphia. However, if you have answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may want to discuss your concerns with a doctor or mental health professional. 

How to Treat Body Dysmorphia

Treatment for body dysmorphia often includes therapy and prescription medication.

No medications have been developed solely to treat body dysmorphic disorder. However, many people who receive professional care for body dysmorphia are prescribed antidepressants. Many experts recommend selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat body dysmorphia.

The therapeutic component of treatment for body dysmorphia can help people replace self-defeating thoughts and behaviors with healthier ways of thinking and acting. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of several therapeutic approaches that can help people who have developed this condition.

Begin Body Dysmorphia Treatment Near Los Angeles, California

Montare Behavioral Health provides personalized care and compassionate support for adults who have been struggling with body dysmorphic disorder. Our body dysmorphia treatment center near Los Angeles, is a safe and welcoming place where you can take significant steps toward a healthier and happier future. Contact us today to learn how we can help.