Body Dysmorphia

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is the experience of excessive focus and worry about one or more perceived flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can't be seen by others. But you may feel so embarrassed, ashamed, and anxious that you may avoid many social situations. When you have BDD, you may repeatedly check the mirror, groom, or seek reassurance, sometimes for many hours each day. Your perceived flaw and the repetitive behaviours cause you significant distress and impact your ability to function in your daily life.

Most people with BDD who receive therapy finish feeling better and more able to manage their symptoms.

The most common features people tend to fixate on include:

  • Faces, such as nose, complexion, wrinkles, acne, and other blemishes
  • Hair, such as appearance, thinning, and baldness
  • Skin and vein appearance
  • Breast size
  • Muscle size and tone
  • Genitalia

A preoccupation with your body build is too small or not muscular enough (muscle dysmorphia) occurs almost exclusively in males.

Insight about BDD varies. You may recognize that your beliefs about your perceived flaws may be excessive or not be true, or think that they probably are true, or be absolutely convinced that they're true.

The more convinced you are of your beliefs, the more distress and disruption you may experience in your life.

Signs and symptoms of BDD may include:

  • Being extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that to others can't be seen or appears minor
  • A strong belief that you have a defect in your appearance that makes you ugly or deformed
  • The belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way or mock you
  • Engaging in behaviours aimed at fixing or hiding the perceived flaw that is difficult to resist or control, such as frequently checking the mirror, grooming, or skin picking
  • Attempting to hide perceived flaws with styling, makeup, or clothes
  • Constantly comparing your appearance with others
  • Frequently seeking reassurance about your appearance from others
  • Having perfectionist tendencies
  • Seeking cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction
  • Avoiding social situations

These symptoms may cause difficulties in day-to-day activities such as work, studying, social activities, or relationships with others.

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