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Body dysmorphia is a mental illness which makes people worry excessively about their physical appearance. People suffering from body dysmorphia often feel they are larger or less attractive than they really are.
Body dysmorphia impacts between 1 and 2 percent of the population. The condition usually manifests during the teenage years, when individuals traditionally become more concerned with how they look. Men and women are equally likely to suffer from body dysmorphia.
Body dysmorphia is also called body dysmorphic disorder.
As with its close relative obsessive compulsive disorder, people with body dysmorphia often perform repetitive behaviors, like excessively checking their appearance or grooming themselves. They typically feel minor physical flaws are substantial problems and may even imagine flaws that don’t exist. They usually focus on one particular part of their body for scrutiny, like the skin on their face or the size of their legs. Some sufferers understand their feelings aren’t rational while others are convinced they are really as unattractive as they feel.
Body dysmorphia can be triggered by numerous factors. While there may be a genetic component, many sufferers do not have relatives with the condition. Trauma, sexual abuse, or stress may trigger body dysmorphia. It may also arise when a person is already feeling negatively about themselves.
Body dysmorphia can be a significant problem, causing intense emotional distress. It often impairs sufferers’ ability to form and maintain relationships and even their ability to work outside the home or socialize. Rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide are all higher than average for people with body dysmorphia.
However, body dysmorphia can be treated by doctors and mental health professionals. Antidepressant drugs are often prescribed to treat body dysmorphia in conjunction with cognitive behavior therapy. Meditation and other calming techniques can also reduce the symptoms. Cosmetic surgery should not be undertaken lightly, as the patient’s body dysmorphia could worsen if they’re unsatisfied with the results.