Body Dysmorphia

Understanding Body Dysmorphia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition characterized by obsessive preoccupation with perceived flaws in one's appearance. Learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for this disorder.

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), also known as body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition that involves obsessive preoccupation with perceived flaws or defects in one's physical appearance. People with body dysmorphia usually spend hours everyday scrutinizing themselves in the mirror, seeking reassurance from others, and engaging in compulsive behaviors such as excessive grooming or cosmetic surgery.

Anyone can suffer from body dysmorphia, but is mostly common in teenagers and young adults. Contrary to the common believe, having BDD does not necessarily mean that a person is vain or is self-obsessed as it can heavily impact a person's life and his/her relationship with other people.

What are the symptoms of body dysmorphia?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is characterized by distressing preoccupations with perceived defects or flaws in physical appearance. The symptoms of BDD can vary, but they often include:

  • Obsessive focus on one or more perceived flaws in appearance, which may be minor or nonexistent
  • Repeatedly checking appearance in mirrors or avoiding mirrors altogether
  • Excessive grooming, such as combing hair, applying makeup, or picking at skin
  • Repeatedly seeking reassurance from others about appearance
  • Social withdrawal or avoidance due to perceived physical flaws
  • Compulsive behaviors such as skin picking, hair pulling, or cosmetic surgery
  • Depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues

Causes of Body Dysmorphia

The exact causes of body dysmorphia are not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Some of the factors that may contribute to the development of BDD include:

  • Genetics - Individuals with a family history of BDD or other mental health conditions may be more susceptible to developing the disorder.

  • Brain Chemistry - Imbalances in certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin, may play a role in the development of BDD.

  • Trauma or Abuse - Past traumatic experiences, such as bullying, teasing, or abuse, may contribute to the development of BDD.

  • Sociocultural Factors - Societal pressures to conform to certain beauty standards may contribute to the development of BDD, particularly in individuals who already have a vulnerability to the disorder.

Treatment of Body Dysmorphia

Treatment for body dysmorphia often involves a combination of therapy and medication. Some of the most common treatments for BDD include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - CBT is a type of therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors related to body image.

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) - These medications help balance brain chemicals and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety that often accompany BDD.

  • Group Therapy - Group therapy provides a supportive environment for individuals to share their experiences and learn from others with similar struggles.

  • Family Therapy - Family therapy can help family members understand and support their loved one with BDD.

In addition to these treatments, it is important for individuals with body dysmorphia to practice self-care and develop coping strategies for managing their symptoms. This may include mindfulness exercises, stress reduction techniques, and engaging in activities that promote a positive body image.

Body dysmorphia can have a significant impact on an individual's quality of life, but with proper treatment and support, it is possible to manage and overcome the disorder. If you or someone you know is struggling with body dysmorphia, it is important to seek professional help.


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Experience the power of innovative and effective applied neuroscience therapy for mental and emotional wellness. Visit Serin Center in Phoenix, Arizona. With offices in Peoria and Scottsdale, our experts provide cutting-edge approaches for faster, long-lasting results. Upgrade your life today and contact us to see how we can help your child, teen, or yourself.