Picking apart self-image, worrying about what others think and allowing such worries to control life to some is seen as vanity, yet in truth are the impacts of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

Without definite causation, body dysmorphia is a mental health disorder, which distorts self-image, worth and confidence surrounding personal aesthetics. To onlookers, flaws are unnoticeable, where such imagery may in fact be longed for. Yet for someone with body dysmorphia, those flaws are heightened, are consuming and are compared with personal ideologies of beauty.

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While causations are unsure, in today’s pressurised world around social media, around filtering images, around plastic surgery, and around definite notions of attractiveness, body dysmorphic disorder rates are increasing, especially in teens and young adults.

Highly associated with compulsive behaviours, mood disorders, anxiety, eating disorders and obsessive comparison disorders, BDD can be life-altering, can cause significant worries for health, and can amount to an unhealthy relationship with oneself.

As it is an independent mental health disorder, sourcing appropriate support and treatment is encouraged, as therapies will differ from such mood disorders and eating disorders.

Instead, accepting body dysmorphic disorder treatment here at Nova Recovery will be advantageous, to work on self-love, to improve self-acceptance and to improve mental health.

What is body dysmorphia?

Affecting 1 in every 20 young girls, body dysmorphia is an anxiety-related condition, where obsessive outlooks are pinned on one’s image. It in fact affects all genders, all age groups, all backgrounds, yet is extremely prevalent in teenage girls, down to societal pressures and standards of beauty.

Worrying about our body image, is normal, to a degree. Self-care and hygiene are key focuses for many of us, to present ourselves in a way that promotes self-confidence and worth. However, obsessively worrying over such efforts differentiates average outlooks and those caused by body dysmorphic disorder.

Someone who’s suffering from body dysmorphia may be branded as self-obsessed, when in fact they are obsessing over areas of their body or face in which they deem as ugly, unattractive or abnormal. With such outlooks, the desire to change will commonly follow the impacts of BDD, while comparing to those who are highlighted as attractive.

For onlookers, it can be difficult to understand body dysmorphia, and also accredit it as a mental health diagnosis. Yet, it is firmly a condition that is causing significant suffering, which is distorting and deteriorating self-love, image and confidence and is increasing further life-limiting risks for sufferers.

Through such suffering, body dysmorphic disorder treatment will be recommended to tackle triggers and psychological responses of BDD.

What causes body dysmorphic disorder?

Body dysmorphia can be caused by genetic vulnerabilities and chemical instability in the brain. Resembling alternative mental health issues, causes of body dysmorphic disorder are uncontrollable.

However, with the rise of social media, with active comparison, with indispensable content, and with even more defined exposure of unrealistic beauty, causations of BDD are forming through societal expectations and taught behaviour.

Trauma surrounding bullying and online trolling are prevalent motivators of negative body image, which if consistently exposed to, can deter mental health stability and outlooks.

Pressures around social media and the image that it reflects have also contributed to the materialisation of body dysmorphic disorder, as comparison can be easily done.

As BDD is usually encountered by those with pre-existing susceptibilities of anxiety and OCD, such pressure is found to cause fixation on obsessive comparison, increasing the development of BDD.

Symptoms of body dysmorphia

Body dysmorphic disorder symptoms surround the negligence of or devalue of self-image and awareness. Such feelings can present themselves in many different ways, yet there are some common actions that reflect the negative outlooks caused by BDD.

  • Consistently worrying about self-image
  • Spending time in the mirror, looking at oneself and potentially looking at ways to change body image
  • Worrying about what other people see and think about personal body image
  • Consistently looking to mask flaws, which to onlookers, will not be noticeable
  • Obsessively comparing oneself to others, especially those who are deemed attractive
  • Looking into extensive plastic surgery to make such changes
  • Utilising unhealthy coping strategies to blur out negative emotions

The above symptoms are definite reflections of body dysmorphic disorder. Many individuals will also experience physical symptoms of anxiety, depression and panic as a result of the nature of body dysmorphia as a mental health condition.

Symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder can become controlling, life-limiting and unbearable to live with, as for sufferers, their body image will take priority over other areas of life.

This will not be down to vanity, but down to the compulsive and obsessive characteristics of BDD. In this instance, body dysmorphic disorder treatment will be recommended, with a focus on mindfulness and well-being therapies.

Body dysmorphic disorder treatment

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a prevalent treatment that delves deeper into emotional responses, suitable for those who are experiencing both BDD and anxiety/depression.

Mindfulness and well-being therapies may also be personally recommended as body dysmorphic disorder treatment, as for those suffering, a distorted image of reality is common.

Mindfulness, along with the positives of improved wellbeing can promote greater presence, greater clarity and greater gratitude of oneself.

In tandem with therapy, prescription medications may be used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, while offering greater chemical stability in the brain. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors will usually be prescribed as a management tool through moments of anxiety.

As body dysmorphic disorder surrounds emotional and psychological response and outlooks, sourcing credible treatment is a must, which focuses on improving such outlooks.

At Nova Recovery, we’re here as a specialist recovery hospital for mental health rehabilitation, offering appropriate body dysmorphic disorder treatment.

If you’re worrying about your self-image, if you’re obsessing over the way you look, and if such symptoms are controlling your life, reach out for compassionate and confidential support.