What is Body Dysmorphia and How to Cope With It

Body dysmorphia (body dysmorphic disorder BDD), is a mental health condition that affects how you see yourself and your appearance. People with body dysmorphia have a distorted perception of their physical features and believe that they have a flaw or defect that makes them ugly or abnormal. This flaw may be minor or invisible to others, but it causes intense distress and anxiety for the person with body dysmorphia. They may spend hours checking, hiding, or trying to fix their perceived flaw, and avoid social situations or activities that expose them to scrutiny or judgment. They may also seek reassurance from others or undergo cosmetic procedures to try to improve their appearance, but often feel dissatisfied or worse after.

Body dysmorphia doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, and can often co-occur with other mental health issues.

 

How to Recognize Body Dysmorphia

Some signs and symptoms of body dysmorphia include:

  • Being extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in your appearance that others can’t see or consider minor.
  • Having a strong belief that you have a defect in your appearance that makes you ugly or deformed.
  • Feeling ashamed, embarrassed, or anxious about your appearance.
  • Engaging in behaviours aimed at hiding or correcting your perceived flaw, such as frequently checking the mirror, grooming, applying makeup, wearing certain clothes, or avoiding bright lights.
  • Constantly comparing your appearance with others or seeking reassurance from others about your appearance.
  • Having perfectionist tendencies or unrealistic expectations about your appearance.
  • Seeking cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction or repeating them excessively.
  • Avoiding social situations, work, school, or other activities because of your appearance.
  • Having problems with your self-esteem, relationships, or functioning because of your appearance.

If you recognize any of these signs and symptoms in yourself or someone you care about, it is important to seek professional help.

 

How to Cope With Body Dysmorphia

The good news is that with the right support and guidance from your GP you can learn coping skills to manage your distress and reduce behaviours. Its also important to include some self-care strategies. For example:

  • Focus on the positive aspects of your appearance and personality, rather than the negative ones.
  • Practice gratitude for what your body can do for you, rather than what it looks like.
  • Engage in activities that make you happy and fulfilled.
  • Be kind and gentle with yourself, and avoid self-criticism or harsh judgments.

 

Body dysmorphia can be a challenging condition to live with, but it is not a life sentence. With the right treatment and support plan, you can overcome your body image issues and live a more confident and fulfilling life. If you think you may have body dysmorphia, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. You are not alone, and you deserve to feel good about yourself. Remember that beauty is subjective and diverse, and everyone has their own strengths and flaws.