What is body dysmorphic disorder?
"Dysmorphia" means deformity or abnormality in the shape or size of a body part.
Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder where you spend a lot of time and energy worrying about and disliking how you look despite having a normal body. People with this disorder may focus on the size or appearance of a certain body part, such as their nose. The worries about the body part make no sense to friends and loved ones and interfere with daily life.
People with body dysmorphic disorder may spend hours a day worrying about perceived flaws in their body, though these problems seem minor or invisible to other people
You may think that parts of your body are ugly, unattractive, or deformed
You may feel so ashamed and anxious about how you look that you avoid going out or spending time with friends
Doctors treat body dysmorphic disorder with antidepressant medicines and cognitive-behavioral therapy
The disorder usually begins during adolescence and may be somewhat more common among women.
What are the symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder?
Symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder can start slowly or come on suddenly. Symptoms include:
Spending hours a day worrying about perceived body defects
Checking yourself in mirrors constantly
Constant, excessive grooming or skin picking
Belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way or mock you
Seeking frequent plastic surgery with little satisfaction
Avoiding social situations so other people don't see you
Being so preoccupied with your appearance that it causes major distress or problems in your social life, work, school, or other areas
The body part that you focus on may change over time. People with body dysmorphic disorder often focus on:
Face and skin
Muscle size and tone
How can doctors tell if I have body dysmorphic disorder?
Many people worry a little about how they look. Doctors diagnose you with body dysmorphic disorder only if your worries about your appearance:
Make you very upset
Take up a lot of time
Cause problems in your daily life
Many people with body dysmorphic disorder are ashamed to tell their doctors about their concerns or don't think their worries are a problem. As a result, the disorder can be hidden for years.
How do doctors treat body dysmorphic disorder?
Doctors treat body dysmorphic disorder using one or more of the following:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy—this helps people think about their appearance more accurately
Habit reversal therapy—this helps people stop repeating actions such as skin picking