What is body dysmorphic disorder?

Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine
Body dysmorphic disorder is a type of chronic mental illness in which you can't stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance — a flaw that is either minor or imagined.‬ When you have body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely obsess over your appearance and body image, often for many hours a day. You may seek out numerous cosmetic procedures to try to "fix" your perceived flaws, but never will be satisfied. Body dysmorphic disorder is also known as dysmorphophobia, the fear of having a deformity.
Sheila Dunnells
Addiction Medicine
Parents should be aware that children as young as elementary school will complain that they are ugly. Classmates use this term liberally, so it is very hard to bring a young child around to see that ugly is a very strong term and reserved for the wicked witch of the north. If children are already dissatisfied with their body at a young age, it is important to get them involved in many activities that will boost their sense of self, self esteem, and feeling of power over themselves and the universe. The more out of control children feel, the more likely they are to turn on their body as the reason. Encourage, support, make important all those activities that do not require special looks to succeed. It isn't that looks are not important, they are. But, this should not be the focus for a child. Eventually that feeling of inferiority will seep into other areas of their life.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

If you're never satisfied with the way your body looks or you're convinced that you're ugly, you might suffer from an emotional phenomenon called body dysmorphic disorder. This disorder may manifest itself in all kinds of ways - obsessing over the mirror, getting addicted to plastic surgery, and even exercising hours on end in pursuit of the perfect body. (This disorder is actually a form of obsessive compulsive disorder.)

The real trick is trying to put into perspective what our bodies really look like, accept imperfections, and acknowledge how much work we need to do. Do that, and you're better able to take actions to feel and act better, as you try to make healthy changes to what your body looks and feels.

You: Being Beautiful - The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty

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You: Being Beautiful - The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty

Most people think that beauty revolves around such things as lipstick, sweet eyes, or skinny jeans -- all those things that we can see (and obsess over) in the mirror. But the fact is that beauty...

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental illness that can cause people to obsess about perceived flaws and think other people particularly notice them. People with body dysmorphic disorder often go to great lengths to try to get rid of or cover these perceived imperfections. Fortunately, treatments, including psychotherapy and medication, are available to treat this condition.

The psychiatric disorder known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), also referred to as dysmorphophobia, is characterized by a preoccupation with a physical flaw, which can be imaginary, or exaggerated.

People with BDD do not see what they truly look like when they look in a mirror. Instead, they see major defects and flaws, despite assurances that others offer them about their appearance.

People with BDD can spend hours in front of a mirror each day, obsessing about what they look like. When they look in a mirror, they see a monster looking back. They camouflage their features to hide their flaws. If they are feeling particularly revolting, they skip classes or work, or may remain within their homes to avoid being seen. Some may resort to cosmetic surgery, or even suicide, to escape their self-destructive thoughts.

This disorder often occurs along with other psychiatric disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder and clinical depression. The presence of these disorders, along with other factors, often cause BDD to misdiagnosed, or undiagnosed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.