It is quite common to have certain insecurities about one’s physical appearance. However, at times these insecurities turn into a fixation or an unhealthy obsession leading to further problems. As a result, there is an impact on mental as well as physical health. It might also lead to body dysmorphia. Some individuals cannot help but focus solely on their appearance. It begins to affect everyday functioning. Thus, here is some more information on body dysmorphia or body dysmorphic disorder.
WHAT IS BODY DYSMORPHIA?
Body dysmorphia is a mental health disorder where an individual cannot help but constantly think about his/her perceived flaws. That is they say, at some level, the individual develops an uncanny obsession with his/her flaws. However, these flaws might be minor. Or they may not be visible to other people at all. Despite that, the individual finds it difficult to avoid thinking about it. Subsequently, that person begins to overthink and gets embarrassed or anxious. He/she might also tend to avoid social situations because of this.
People suffering from this disorder have the constant need to look at themselves in the mirror. Consequently, they look for ways to seek reassurance or validation. They spend hours trying to cover up the perceived flaw. Even when that is not enough, they might also try to “correct” their flaws. Yet, this is not enough for them either. It gives them temporary relief but they go back to the constant fixation.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF BODY DYSMORPHIA:
There are several symptoms of this disorder. Although the important aspect here is to remember that it is a clinical issue. That can be treated through therapy. Hence, here are a few of the signs and symptoms of the disorder:
PREOCCUPATION WITH ONE’S APPEARANCE:
It is quite general to focus or work towards one’s appearance. However, in the case of body dysmorphic disorder individuals have it to the extreme level. They have a rigorous set of beliefs. This includes the thought that they have certain flaws. Even if these are minor or not visible to others. The individuals perceive them to be a major issue. As a result, they think of these flaws as deformities. They might begin to consider themselves as someone who has a lot of physical flaws. Also, they have the constant need to pick on their flaws. People with the disorder will always emphasize their flaws and be very conscious about them.
In addition to the preoccupation, people suffering from this order constantly look at themselves in the mirror. They spend hours seeking reassurance. As well as attempting to hide what they think is a flaw through make-up and styling. They also tend to compare their appearance to others and have tendencies that reflect perfectionism. They expect to be perfect and might seek cosmetic surgeries to fulfill it. Even if they do it, they are not satisfied completely. The fixation happens again after a while.
FIXATION AND AVOIDING SOCIAL SITUATIONS:
Excessive preoccupation will affect the individual’s other areas of life. Thus, the person tends to avoid getting into any social situation. Besides, he/she might go for cosmetic procedures to “fix” the flaw. Even then, the person begins to fixate after a while. Such as the person might fixate on the structure of his/her nose. After some time, he/she might begin to fixate on other body parts. Like ace and blemishes.
IMPACT OF BODY DYSMORPHIA:
To some, it may not appear to be a severe disorder. Some individuals may also choose to avoid the gravity of the situation. Although this does not resolve the issue on its own. Failure to get treatment for body dysmorphia will result in more concerns. Individuals often have a low sense of self-esteem and lack confidence. Like the person will begin to suffer from other mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or even thoughts of self-harm.
It will extend and affect the individual’s ability to carry on with tasks in day-to-day life. For instance, the person due to constant fixation might spend hours getting ready for work and be late. Along with this, he/she might not be able to focus at work and avoid interaction with other colleagues even if it is important.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS?
The causes of body dysmorphia vary. It might be because of the family history too or abnormal developing/functioning of the brain. Nevertheless, there are also certain risk factors. That is to say, these factors increase the chance of developing the disorder. These include:
Negative childhood experiences such as teasing, bullying, or having neglectful parents.
Family history as mentioned before. In addition to relatives who too suffer from this disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Impact of societal pressure to meet beauty standards.
Going through other disorders like eating disorder or OCD.
CAN BODY DYSMORPHIA BE TREATED?
The treatment of body dysmorphia usually involves cognitive behavior therapy along with some medication. The cognitive behavior empathizes and helps to learn about the goals and personalization of the treatment plan. This includes learning strong coping skills and being aware of negative thoughts and behavior patterns.
Also, there is no specific medication to treat body dysmorphia. Since it might be caused due to or lead to the development of other disorders. Like, depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. The medications are given for the latter (if the individual is diagnosed with it). In some cases, hospitalization might happen due to the severity of the situation. Coping and support like being a part of a support group. Getting help and staying around with the loved ones can help the person too.
To conclude, body dysmorphic disorder is a major illness. It can severely affect the individual and the ability to function effectively. Most commonly, it develops during the teenage years. Therefore, it is advised to look out for early signs and symptoms. In case of diagnosis, support from family and friends. Having a goal and actively following the treatment plan can help the individual to deal with it more effectively.