Dysmorphophobia, Body Dysmorphic

Looking into the mirror, most of us would be able to point out something we would like to change about our appearance. We all have flaws and imperfections, but we usually use them to motivate us for positive change. However, some individuals are so ashamed of their perceived flaws that they will go to extreme lengths to disguise or hide them from others. Dysmorphophobia, also called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), is a rare condition in which a person becomes obsessed with a “flaw” that they see in their appearance and commonly appears in individuals ages 15-20. A person with BDD will often go to extreme lengths to hide their perceived flaw, which may ultimately lead them to withdraw from social situations or look to alternative options for treatment that may end up worsening their condition.

Symptoms of Dysmorphobia

It may be hard to tell if a person is suffering from legitimate dysmorphophobia as many people have a preoccupation with their body image and appearance. However, this phobia manifests itself as more of an obsession and the “flaw” may be minor or even imagined. Look for these common symptoms usually associated with a dymorphophobic person:

  • Excessive grooming
  • Reluctance or refusal to have their picture take
  • Constantly touching the “flaw” they see in themselves
  • Trying to hide a certain part of their body or keep it hidden through other means
  • Frequently comparing their appearance to others
  • Continually looking into the mirror and studying their appearance.

While most people are able to live otherwise normal lives outside of their dysmorphophobia, symptoms can grow and worsen if the phobia is ignored or untreated. This may eventually lead to a complete loss of self-esteem or even spiral into a depression, which will require further treatment.

Treatment of Dysmorphophobia

Plastic surgery or other similar methods that can drastically change a person’s appearance may seem like an obvious way to treat dysmorphophobia, but are commonly ineffective means of help. Since the “flaw” the person sees in themselves is usually a mental preoccupation, they will usually be unhappy with the results of a cosmetic surgery. They may obsess over small details of the change or even find an entirely new image issue to preoccupy themselves with. These patients may continually undergo cosmetic surgery, often with no signs of long-term relief. This will commonly detour a person from seeking the professional psychological help they may desperately need to actually overcome a problem. Instead, they will continually spend their money on small surgeries that will never lead to improvement of the condition.

Living with dysmorphophobia or body dysmorphic disorder can be an incredibly time consuming and mentally straining process. Only by seeking professional treatment or becoming motivated enough to follow a self-help regimen will a person be able to better cope with their dysmorphophobia. Do the research to find the best treatment options available locally for you and learn how beautiful you really are.

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