Symptoms of Body Dysmorphia

To a certain extent, attending to one’s appearance represents normal behavior that’s an expected part of everyday society and culture. As with any form of “disorder,” the crossover from normal to problematic occurs when a behavior starts to impair a person’s ability to function in everyday life.

Body dysmorphia, also known as body dysmorphic disorder or BDD, entails a compulsive tendency to obsess over a perceived flaw or defect on one’s body. BDD is classified as a form of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder that focuses entirely on body appearance.

According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, body dysmorphia affects at least 2.4 percent of the general population. While many people may think of anorexia or bulimia in relation to body-image-based disorders, body dysmorphia encompasses a wide spectrum of symptoms that may or may not give rise to anorexia or bulimia conditions.

With looks and appearance ranking so high in American society, people experiencing symptoms of body dysmorphia may not even realize the seriousness of the matter. Ultimately, symptoms of BDD can wear away at a person’s quality of life in much the same way any other type of psychological dysfunction can.

Know that there is help available for people with BDD. Call 888-647-0051 (Who Answers?) toll free to find treatment today.

Body Dysmorphia

body image disorders

The symptoms of BDD can be so severe that individuals seek plastic surgery to correct perceived physical flaws.

An overwhelming fear of deformity and disfigurement lie at the heart of body dysmorphia. Over time, this obsessive preoccupation takes over a person’s life, not unlike a substance abuse disorder does.

Personality disorders originate within the thinking patterns that dominate a person’s awareness. For BDD suffers, concerns over body appearance play a central role in their overall sense of well-being and quality of life.

Symptoms brought on by BDD interfere with a person’s well-being on multiple levels, some of which include –

  • Emotionally
  • Psychologically
  • Socially
  • Vocationally

In effect, BDD suffers contend with incessant thoughts and worries concerning flaws or defects, which can be real or imagined. These thought patterns overpower a person’s will and ultimately become the focus of what he or she thinks, feels and does.

Obsessing Over Perceived Flaws

As with obsessive-compulsive disorder, people with body dysmorphia obsess over one or more parts of the body, such as –

  • Bodily features
  • Inconsistencies
  • Body shape

According to the Mayo Clinic, areas most often targeted include-

  • Skin appearance
  • Facial features – wrinkles, blemishes, acne
  • Genitals
  • Muscle tone, muscle size
  • Hair – graying, baldness, thinning

It’s not uncommon for someone struggling with BDD to obsess over five to seven different body parts at any given time. Not surprisingly, the time and energy required to attend to so many perceived flaws takes a toll on a person’s overall mental and emotional health. Help is available. Call 888-647-0051 (Who Answers?) to discuss treatment options today.

Impaired Social Functioning

When left untreated, symptoms of body dysmorphia grow increasingly worse in severity and consequently take up a larger part of a person’s life. Over time, BDD symptoms start to impair a person’s ability to function effectively in daily life.

According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, a study conducted on BDD showed –

  • 36 percent of participants missed a week’s worth of work within a one month period
  • 27 percent remained housebound
  • 40 percent had been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons

Behavioral Symptoms

Body dysmorphia drives those affected to experience profound feelings of shame over perceived flaws or defects. These feelings drive a person to carry out any number of unusual and dysfunctional behaviors since a he or she will go to great lengths to conceal or correct for flawed areas on the body.

As with any personality disorder, indulging in BDD behaviors only works to reinforce the thinking patterns that drive the behaviors. After so long, the brain’s chemical system becomes affected by the emotional ups and downs brought on by the disorder. In effect, symptoms of body dysmorphia become more ingrained within a person’s psychological make-up.

Symptoms of body dysmorphia make take the form of –

  • Covering up perceived flaws with clothing, make-up or hair
  • Constantly checking one’s appearance in the mirror
  • Avoiding mirrors
  • Comparing oneself with others
  • Plastic surgery
  • Picking at skin flaws
  • Changing body position to hide defects or flaws
  • Seeking out specific lighting conditions to camouflage flaws

Psychological Problems

The chemical imbalances brought on by body dysmorphia can lay the groundwork for other forms of psychological disorder to take root. More oftentimes than not, someone who’s lived with body dysmorphia for months or years at a time has developed a co-occurring disorder.

According to Harvard Health Publications, co-occurring disorders commonly associated with body dysmorphia include –

  • Depression disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Agoraphobia

When a co-occurring disorder develops, both conditions work to aggravate one another. This means, symptoms of BDD will reinforce or strengthen the other disorder’s symptoms and vice versa. In the process, the brain chemical imbalance underlying both conditions only gets worse with time. If you have a co-occurring disorder, treatment can address that as well. Call 888-647-0051 (Who Answers?) for more info.

Risk-Prone Behaviors

The degree of emotional turmoil BDD suffers experience make them more so prone to engaging in risk-prone behaviors. This is especially true in cases where perceived flaws are imaginary or delusion-based in nature. Risk-prone behaviors may endanger a person’s safety as well as the safety of others.

A great majority of people suffering from body dysmorphia have gone so far as to contemplate suicide on one or more occasions, with some actually acting on the intent. In actuality, the rate of completed suicides among BDD suffers runs higher than with most every other form of mental disorder.

Someone struggling with BDD may also exhibit violent behaviors towards others out of frustration. This can happen in instances where a person feels mocked by others over “the defect.” People who opt for corrective surgery also have high rates of violence towards their doctors when a surgery doesn’t turn out as expected.

Risk Factors

With any form of personality disorder, certain risks factors can make a person more likely to develop a particular type of disorder. Risk factors commonly associated with body dysmorphia include –

  • Feeling pressured by societal expectations of beauty
  • Negative experiences in the past, such as being teased as a child
  • A blood-relative who suffers from BDD
  • Having an existing depression or anxiety disorder

Considering the destructive effects BDD can have in a person’s life, it’s essential to get needed treatment help once symptoms of body dysmorphia start to develop. We can help you find the treatment you need. Call 888-647-0051 (Who Answers?) today.


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