Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Many people have certain physical characteristics about themselves that they don’t like. Perhaps it’s the size of their nose, the small wrinkles around their eyes, or their uneven complexion. Wishing you could improve upon some of your features is something that many people struggle with — which is why so many invest their time and money into health and beauty products, going to Med Spas, or visiting the plastic surgeon.
Unfortunately, some people have an unhealthy preoccupation with their appearance that causes them extreme stress and anxiety. This can affect daily functioning and overall quality of life. At Blair Wellness Group, we specialize in helping people with all forms of anxiety including body dysmorphic disorder, as well as addiction, depression, and food disorders. If what you see in the mirror is consuming your thoughts and impacting how you think, feel, or act on a daily basis, an anxiety therapist can help. Contact Blair Wellness Group to schedule an appointment.
Characteristics of Body Dysmorphic Disorder
It’s difficult to find someone who is completely satisfied with their appearance. Just about everyone has at least one thing that they would like to change. For those with body dysmorphic disorder, however, the preoccupation with a perceived flaw can cause them to spend an excessive amount of time trying to hide or fix their appearance. The embarrassment and shame they feel is enough to even make them want to withdraw and avoid social situations entirely.
Ironically, the thing that is the cause of so much distress is often unperceivable to others. In some cases, the flaw is imagined — but in others, it is so small or insignificant that it isn’t even noticeable by others. Even so, BMD causes people to feel embarrassed, ashamed, and anxious about what others may think. It’s more than just wanting to look good or feeling self-conscious, BMD is a true mental health disorder that can cause significant problems in your personal and professional life.
Signs and Symptoms
People with body dysmorphic disorder can dislike any part of their body, although some of the most common areas of concern are the hair, skin, facial features, and body weight. Many people are unhappy with their appearance or feel self-conscious about certain aspects of it, but it becomes a problem and mental health concern when it causes extreme emotional distress and difficulty in daily functioning.
The following are some of the signs that someone may have body dysmorphic disorder and may benefit from consulting with an anxiety therapist.
- Preoccupation with perceived flaws
- Spending hours every day thinking about perceived flaws
- Engaging in behavior aimed at trying to fix or control flaws
- Frequently seeking reassurance from others
- Camouflaging flaws with clothes or makeup
- Excessive grooming
- Constantly compare oneself to others
- Seeking to change appearance through one or more surgeries
- Feeling ashamed of perceived flaws to the point that you feel ugly
Causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder is a relatively common mental health disorder that affects 10 million or more in the United States. Because people may be reluctant to seek help and because it is often confused with other types of mental health disorders, it is assumed that this number is actually much higher.
While there is no one, primary cause of body dysmorphic disorder, there are multiple factors that can influence its development. They can be biological, such as a chemical imbalance in the brain, or social, such as when someone is teased or bullied as a child. Additional causes may include:
- Being raised by parents who were critical of other people’s appearance
- Perfectionist tendencies
- Low self-esteem
- Societal influence that equates physical appearance with value
- Fear of being alone
- Family history
Complications Associated With BDD
It is common for people with BDD to also suffer from other mental health disorders. Some of them may include obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia as well as other types of anxiety disorders. Because many of these mental health conditions share the same symptoms, it’s easy to overlook body dysmorphic disorder. However, at Blair Wellness Group, we have significant knowledge and experience in assisting people who struggle with BDD. We know the impact it can have on your life and that’s why we encourage anyone struggling with this condition to reach out to us.
Left untreated, BDD can get worse and lead to other mood disorders and unhealthy behaviors. Some of the complications of BDD include social isolation, substance misuse, severe depression, extensive medical bills from trying to correct the perceived defect, and even problems at work if someone is too self-conscious to go out in public.
Treatment For Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Although there is no known way to prevent BDD altogether, those who seek treatment from an experienced anxiety therapist have a good chance of improving their symptoms.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One of the most effective forms of therapy for treating BDD is cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. This type of psychotherapy focuses on helping patients challenge the negative thoughts that influence their emotional reactions and behaviors. By learning to recognize distorted or unhelpful ways of thinking, people can gain a better understanding of their behavior and the motivation behind it in order to change unhealthy behavior patterns.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
DBT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that has been proven effective for body dysmorphic disorder as well as other types of mood disorders. DBT helps patients learn to recognize thoughts and behaviors that are damaging, destructive, or counterproductive and replace them with healthier ones.
One of the core strategies used in dialectical behavior therapy is the development of mindfulness skills. Mindfulness is an adaptive coping mechanism that allows you to tune into your innermost feelings so you can focus on avoiding negative thought patterns and thereby reduce your anxiety.
Contact Blair Wellness Group For Help With Body Dysmorphic Disorder
If you find yourself constantly worrying about your appearance or you spend hours a day trying to fix physical imperfections that you hope no one will see, it’s possible you have a mental health condition known as body dysmorphic disorder. Seeking help from an anxiety therapist can help you better understand the drivers behind your self-destructive thoughts and behaviors so you can make an effective plan for change.
If you’re looking for an anxiety therapist in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Brentwood, or the surrounding area, please contact Blair Wellness Group at 310.999.4996 to make an appointment.
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With more than 15 years of experience in providing psychological services, we are confident in our expertise.
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