The Ugly Behind Body Dysmorphia |Causes and Cures

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Body dysmorphia. It has an ugly sound to it, doesn’t it? Rightfully so because this is exactly how you feel when you suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder. It’s not as simple as being self conscience or having low self esteem. There’s more to it than that. So, today we will discuss the cause and cures for his “ugly” situation.

I didn’t need some one to tell me I was beautiful. I needed some one to listen to why I felt that way in the first place.” – anonymous quote from a Makin Wellness patient

So what exactly is a Body Dysmorphic Disorder? Let’s explore.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD):

Suffering from BBD means you fixate on a perceived flaw in your appearance. This condition leads to obsessing for several hours a day and can lead to a heightened state of anxiety. You start to completely skip social interactions. You isolate yourself from basic family obligations, work, and/or school. And so on.

Who does BBD effect?

Body dysmorphia directly effects approximately 2% of the general population. That number seems pretty small. 1 in 50 people. In reality though, it means if you yourself are lucky enough to be one of the 49 right now, you probably know someone who suffers or has suffered. Commonly emerging in adolescence, we are all familiar with the radical changes our body’s go through as a teen moving into adulthood. But adults are effected too.

What causes body dysmorphia?

The specific cause of body dysmorphia is unknown. Many mental health conditions result from a combination of issues, environmental and/or predisposed. There are however, certain factors that may put you at risk including:

  • A family history of body dysmorphia or a similar condition such as OCD
  • Neurological factors
  • Certain Personality types such as “the perfectionist”
  • Childhood experiences like teasing, neglect or abuse
  • Societal pressure
  • Having another mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression

Symptoms you might see In some one suffering from BDD

  • Obsession with a perceived flaw in appearance that others can’t see
  • Strong belief that the defect in they’re appearance makes them ugly or deformed
  • Belief that others take special notice of their appearance in a negative way
  • Behaviors aimed at fixing or hiding the perceived flaw that are difficult to resist or control, such as frequently checking the mirror
  • Attempting to hide perceived flaws with styling, makeup or clothes
  • Constantly comparing their appearance with others
  • Frequently seeking reassurance about their appearance from others
  • Being a perfectionist
  • Constantly seeking cosmetic procedures with little or no satisfaction
  • Avoiding social situations due to all of the above reasons

Can body dysmorphic disorder be cured?

The simple answer is yes. With the right diagnosis and counseling, you can recover from BDD. Full disclosure, it may take a long time, but aren’t you worth it?

girl leaving troubles behind looking in rear view mirror

The simple answer is yes. You are.

How can I get help?

The path to recovery is different for everyone. First things first, you read this blog. You’re already on the right path so please (and I mean this), thank yourself. These obsessions with our appearance are often paired with underlying conditions such as mood, anxiety and/or eating disorders. In some instances, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can play a large role. Now, none of this means your crazy, but it does suggest that your suffering is deepened by issues that may be overshadowed if not dealt with. Understanding it’s ok is sometimes the hardest part, but taking that first step will push you in the right direction, whether it be to call some one or not.

So what’s next, you ask? Well, you deserve to live your best life. Always remember that and you can skip to the next step….

The fork in the road

The fork in the road is where you decide whether counseling will benefit you or not. Different strokes for different folks, but there are some things you should remember:

1. You are not alone.

2. This disorder will not usually resolve itself on its own. Long term care may be needed to prevent relapse.

3.Psychological symptoms can often intersect, making an accurate diagnosis a complicated process. For example, guilt and shame conceived by a body dysmorphia can be mistaken for the behavioral symptoms of social anxiety. Likewise, obsessions that revolve around your appearance are more likely to be associated with Body Dysmorphic Disorder than with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, although it may not always be the case. For this reason, a qualified professional is recommended if you feel you or some one you know is teetering on that line.

Who can help me?

Therapists like Melissa Donahue at Makin Wellness in Pittsburgh, work through these issues to find the “ugly monster” that whispers those horrible words into your ears. Using methods proven to work, your therapy plan will be built to suit you on your terms in a safe place. A place where you can learn to feel comfortable in your own skin again.

In reality, steps taken to help yourself are ultimately up to you. The most important thing is that you realize you are more than a collection of signs and symptoms. You are more than a swan who sees an ugly duckling. You are a person who deserves to feel good about themselves.

Eating disorders are complex conditions that have varied behaviors and symptoms often paired with other physical and mental health issues. These serious conditions demand the correct care. For this reason, we stress the necessity to consult with a mental health professional experienced in treating eating disorders.

If you or someone you love needs help with body dysmorphic disorder, please share this post and call a Makin Wellness counselor at (412)532-1249.

body dysmorphia author
Julie Keddie, Makin Wellness Research Intern
Sara Makin MSEd, LPC, NCC

Sara Makin MSEd, LPC, NCC

All articles are written in conjunction with the Makin Wellness Research Team.

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