Body Dysmorphic Disorder is the excessive preoccupation with an imaginary physical defect. Let’s discover the symptoms, causes and possible treatments of dysmorphophobia.
Dysmorphophobia is included in somatomorphic disorders. Basically it is a psycho-physical condition that involves the manifestation of physical symptoms that are not justified. In practice, it is a disorder for which we worry about a defect, or physical deformation , which can be minimal or imaginary. Normally people with dysmorphophobia complain mainly of minor facial defects, such as acne, wrinkles, scars or asymmetries. Let’s try to better understand what causes this disorder and how to heal.
What is dysmorphophobia? The meaning
As we have anticipated, dysmorphophobia is a condition that is characterized by an excessive and unfounded concern for physical imperfections. Subjects affected by this pathology are unable to objectively observe their own body, even going so far as to magnify these defects.
Globally, dysmorphophobia affects about 2% of the population and, in the most serious cases, can push those who suffer from it to undergo cosmetic surgery . In general, however, we can say that the concerns mainly concern parts of the body such as:
-hair, hair and beard
– all parts of the face
– body weight
In addition to identifying non-existent physical defects, dysmorphophobia sufferers believe they appear unattractive or even horrible. This leads to developing behaviors such as:
– compare your own appearance with that of others
– look at yourself repeatedly in the mirror
-dedicate yourself excessively to self-care
– compulsive purchases of beauty products
– change clothes several times or wear excessively makeup
The causes of dysmorphophobia
It might seem strange but there don’t seem to be any precise causes behind the dysmorphophobia disorder. According to a recent study, a central role is played by socio-environmental conditions, such as neglect and abuse suffered in childhood.
To these risk factors is then added the predisposition of children with parents suffering from obsessive compulsive syndromes who could therefore more easily develop dysmorphophobia.
Dysmorphophobia: symptoms and diagnosis
Since dysmorphophobia is intended as a mental disorder , to diagnose it, it is necessary to refer to the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. According to this text, in fact, in addition to the concern for a physical defect, repetitive behaviors can be found in response to concerns related to appearance.
In most cases, this condition causes significant clinical discomfort or inability in social or work relationships. It should also be emphasized that dysmorphophobia can take a different form in male individuals.
In this case we speak of muscle dysmorphia , which is a disorder that causes a chronic concern about having a too thin constitution. People affected by this syndrome exercise too much and use steroids or anabolics to inflate their body, with serious health repercussions.
Comorbidities and related pathologies
It should be known that dysmorphophobia is a syndrome with a great comorbidity, that is, with the ability to predispose or cause other disorders. Some of the best known are eating disorders or personality, but you may also experience high stress, decrease anxiety and mood.
In the worst cases there were obsessive compulsive disorders, social phobia , anuptaphobia , depression and even suicidal ideas.
Dysmorphophobia, how to heal: the cure
Like many other mental disorders, dysmorphophobia can be overcome by following a therapy and, specifically, the cognitive-behavioral one has proved particularly effective. This treatment involves sessions with a therapist, who will help the patient work on the distorted ways in which he perceives his own body.
It will be necessary to change the wrong beliefs , to arrive at the acceptance of the defect, the increase of self-esteem and therefore to a correct self-perception. In any case, motivation and commitment are essential to follow this path correctly.
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