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About Body dysmorphia

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Body dysmorphic disorder - commonly called body dysmorphia - is a mental health condition that causes you to become very anxious about a perceived physical defect. Body dysmorphia can consume a person’s thought process, leading them to adopt obsessive behavior patterns and avoid social situations. In many cases, this perceived “flaw” is so minor that others don’t even notice it. Even so, someone dealing with body dysmorphia may think about this area constantly. Some people will undergo plastic surgery - sometimes several surgeries - just to “fix” this defect.

Common symptoms of body dysmorphia include:

  • Fixation on a perceived “flaw” or “defect” in appearance
  • Adopting obsessive behaviors such as excessive grooming, looking in a mirror, picking skin, or using cosmetics to hide the “flaw”
  • Strong feelings of being “ugly” or “deformed”
  • Low self-esteem
  • Repeatedly seeking validation for appearance
  • Repeatedly consulting medical specialists to discuss ways to improve appearance

Body dysmorphia has no specific cause. It may begin to develop after a stressful or traumatic event, or along with other mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. You may be at greater risk of developing body dysmorphia if you have blood relatives who have the condition, or if you have a family history of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Body dysmorphia affects men and women of diverse ages. While body dysmorphia in and of itself is not particularly dangerous, it can lead to depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts if left untreated. Additionally, cosmetic surgeries performed to address the “flaw” can lead to steep medical bills without a guarantee that you will feel differently about yourself. Because of these complications, you should seek medical attention if you are dealing with the symptoms of body dysmorphia.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, get help right away. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Treatment Options

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Note that all prescriptions are at your provider's discretion.

If you are experiencing symptoms of body dysmorphia, it is recommended that you seek medical help right away. If left untreated, the condition can lead to serious mental health conditions and suicidal thoughts. During your appointment, talk to your provider about a treatment plan that is right for you.

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