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Conditions: Body-Image Anxiety/Body Dysmorphia

What is body dysmorphia?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia is an anxiety that related to body image.

You may spend a lot of time worrying about your appearance and the worry tends to be obsessive in nature. These perceived flaws are either very slight or are unnoticeable to others. You may develop compulsive behaviours and routines, such as excessive use of mirrors or picking your skin, to deal with the worries you have about the way you look. These obsessions and behaviours can vary in severity, but they can cause significant distress. People of any age can have body dysmorphia, but it may be more common in teenagers and young adults. Body dysmorphia affects both men and women.

Many people with significant body image anxiety do not seek help because they are worried that people will judge them and view them as vain. This means that many people with body dysmorphia are likely to experience it for a long time before seeking support. Body dysmorphia can also be linked to the development of other difficulties such as eating disorders, misuse of drugs and alcohol, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. Feelings of shame and guilt as well as loneliness and a tendency to isolate from others can be a common consequence. It may also lead to feeling that there is a need for unnecessary medical procedures, such as cosmetic surgeries. Preoccupation with your appearance and excessive thoughts and repetitive behaviours can be unwanted, difficult to control and so time-consuming that they can cause major distress or problems in your social life, work, school, or other areas of functioning.

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When to seek help?

  • You are being extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that to others can't be seen or appears minor

  • You have a strong belief that you have a defect in your appearance that makes you ugly or deformed

  • You believe that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way or mock you

  • You engage in behaviours that are aimed at fixing or hiding the perceived flaw that are difficult to resist or control, such as frequently checking the mirror, grooming or skin picking

  • You are seeking cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction

  • You experience profound shame and guilt

  • You experience severe discomfort and anxiety and are avoiding social situations

Treatment recommendations

The selected treatment would be individually tailored to your needs following a comprehensive assessment process in our service.  Psychological therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you improve your general attitude to body image and physical appearance, help you work through your concerns about your perceived physical flaw(s) and reduce your need to carry out unhelpful behaviour.

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