What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
Individuals living with Body Dysmorphic Disorder typically have a preoccupation with one or more perceived flaws in their appearance that is not observable, or appears slight to others.
Characteristics of Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Some common characteristics associated with Body Dysmorphic Disorder are:
- Repetitive behaviours – mirror checking, excessive grooming, skin picking, reassurance seeking.
- Symmetry – comparing his/her appearance with that of others (in response to the appearance concerns). Concerns with body symmetry and intrusive, unwanted and time-consuming preoccupations that individuals find difficult to resist or control (e.g repeated checking of perceived flaws in the mirror). These appearance concerns are not better explained by concerns with body fat or weight (as experienced by individuals with an eating disorder).
- Psychological affect – Anxiety, depression, social anxiety, social avoidance, perfectionism.
- Delusion of reference – Believing that other people are taking notice of them or mock them because of their looks.
- Dermatological treatment or surgery – which may be followed by anger or aggression due to dissatisfaction regarding the perceived body part.
Muscle Dysmorphia is a form of Body Dysmorphic Disorder that mainly occurs with males. This form of Dysmorphia is characterised by the preoccupation that one part of the body is too small or is insufficiently lean or muscular. Individuals typically have normal to muscular looking bodies and the preoccupation may focus on skill or hair.
Some common behaviours associated with Muscle Dysmorphia:
- Excessive diet, exercise, weight lifting (potentially causing injury).
- Use of potentially dangerous substances to make themselves bigger (e.g. anabolic-androgenic steroids and other substances).
- In some cases individuals experience preoccupation with perceived deficits in another person’s appearance (Body Dysmorphic Disorder by proxy).
Age of Onset
The age differs between individuals; however the average age for onset of Body Dysmorphic Disorder is 16 to 17 years (the most common age when symptoms present is around 12 to 13 years).
Risk factors associated with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (DSM V, 2013):
- Suicidality –Suicidal thoughts and attempts are high in children, adults and adults living with Body Dysmorphic Disorder .
- Co-morbidity – Major depression, social anxiety disorder, OCD and substance-related disorders are common amongst individuals living with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
How can I or others overcome Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
By contacting one of our qualified and experienced mental health professionals at Vision Psychology, you will be obtain the support you need to identify and manage Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Freecall 1800 877 924 today!
American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. pp. 242-247.