What is Body Dysmorphia?

 

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Body dysmorphia affects many people especially  women.  People with body dysmorphia often can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in their  appearance.  The  perceived flaw  is either minor or not observable to anyone else.  However they  may feel so ashamed and anxious that they  may avoid many social situations.

A person with body dysmorphia  intensely obsesses over their  appearance and body image,  they may repeatedly check the mirror, groom themselves, weigh themselves or seek reassurance, sometimes for many hours each day.  The repetitive behaviors  can cause  significant distress, and impact their  ability to function in life.  People with body dysmorphia also often compare themselves to others and feel that they will never measure up in appearance to other people.  They also tend to be perfectionists.

Shame and embarrassment about your appearance may keep you from seeking treatment for body dysmorphia.  However if you have any signs or symptoms,  it is  important to seek help from a mental health professional.   Body dysmorphia   usually doesn’t get better on its own, and if untreated, it may get worse over time and may lead  to depression, anxiety and in some cases  may lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior.

While there is no known cause, certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing body dysmorphia.

This is a list of some risk factors:

  • Having blood relatives with body dysmorphia or obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Negative life experiences, such as childhood teasing and trauma
  • Certain personality traits, such as perfectionism
  • Societal pressure or expectations of beauty
  • Having a psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety or depression
One of the specialties of my private practice is body dysmorphia,  I have extensive personal and professional experience with it.  While there is no cure, it is possible to learn techniques to live a full life where you don’t obsess over perceived flaws.

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