Body Image: Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Image: Body Dysmorphic Disorder
By Kaitlyn Choi

Body dysmorphic disorder is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder that is marked by fixation on one’s imaginary or minor physical flaws. People who have body dysmorphia are overly worried about what are perceived as overt imperfections in their appearance. They continue to experience negative and anxious thoughts about their face, hair, and/or body. However, in reality, these perceived flaws are hardly noticeable by other people; there may not be any “defect” in their physical appearance at all. The amount of concern experienced by the individual is considerably disproportionate to the flaw they are obsessing over.

Symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include preoccupation to the point of significant distress, impairment in functioning, or isolating oneself due to self-consciousness and insecurity. Moreover, people with body dysmorphia exhibit performance of repetitive behaviors such as mirror checking, excessive grooming, and skin picking. They may also seek reassurance from other people and compare their appearance with that of others throughout the day. Because they believe their physical flaw is so gross and noticeable, they may constantly try to “fix” these flaws by consulting with plastic surgeons or cosmetic professionals.

Primary treatments for body dysmorphic disorder include cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressant medication. The goal of treatment is to recognize the triggers of the behaviors/thoughts, to improve management of the stress experienced, and to help patients learn to view themselves in a non-judgmental way.

In a society that glorifies only certain face and body types, many individuals can feel overwrought about their appearance and consequently experience symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder. It is crucial that individuals learn to love themselves and perceive themselves in a self-encouraging manner.

If you or someone you know is struggling with body image or body dysmorphia, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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