Body Dysmorphic Disorder-Beautiful In Your Own Skin Month
By Fiona McDermut
In light of the start of “beautiful in your own skin” month, it is important to recognize that many struggle with body image satisfaction. Not all people look in the mirror and feel content with what they see. Even if those around you do not understand your body-related concerns, your feelings are totally valid and can be helped with treatment.
Body dysmorphic disorder (body dysmorphia) is a mental illness characterized by a hyper fixation on perceived defects in one’s appearance. This interferes with day-to-day life because one may spend a large amount of time worrying or attempting to adjust the perceived flaw. These behaviors usually result in obsessive body comparison to others, avoidance of social interaction, and frequent negative body-checking (looking in the mirror repeatedly at disliked body parts). Unfortunately, many have associated their own happiness with how closely their bodies align with current beauty standards portrayed in the media. As one lets these thoughts progress, they can worsen, and possibly be a precursor to an eating disorder or other disorders associated with body dissatisfaction such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.
While many believe that cosmetic surgery will fix their perceived flaws, research has shown that such surgeries do not improve psychological symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder. The first step to resolving the issue is recognizing that you have a warped view of what you look like. If you or someone you know experiences this, it can be very beneficial to seek psychological/psychiatric assistance. Professionals in the field will be able to decide the best way to treat these disordered thoughts. The most common treatment for body dysmorphia is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Other possible treatments include hypnotherapy, exposure therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and the prescription of antidepressant medication in order to decrease the feelings of dissatisfaction.
Working with a professional is important in situations like these, but it is still important to remind yourself that your perceived flaws are only noticed by you, and likely not those around you. Nobody is perfect, but with the constant pressure of modern media to be thin, our flaws often appear to be more apparent to ourselves than they are to others. The practice of mindfulness exercises may also help to focus your mind on what you have learned to love about yourself, and of course, do not be afraid to seek help when necessary.
If you or someone you know is struggling with body dysmorphic disorder, 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 http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/