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What is body dysmorphic disorder?

Maria Fernanda
6 min read

Around 6 million people around the world suffer from body dysmorphic disorder.

It is a psychiatric pathology characterized by an erroneous self-perception about the body.

This has the consequence that these people do not enjoy life, since they are engrossed in negative thoughts about their own body, highlighting the defects and not the virtues.

What is body dysmorphic disorder?

This psychiatric disorder has other names such as body dysmorphia or dysmorphophobia. Basically, the person who suffers from it feels a deep rejection of the characteristics of their body.

However, the individual can reject his whole body or a specific part. In addition, this defect is only perceived by the person and not by third parties.

What is body dysmorphic disorder? – Wellness and Health – WebMediums
Body dysmophic disorders

So there is a distortion of self-perception. In the psychiatric area, it belongs to the group of obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Likewise, anything you may feel about the way your body looks can cause emotional distress and recurring negative thoughts.

In general, the main criticism tends to focus on the face, especially, on the appearance of the nose, the color of the eyes, the shape of the face, the appearance of the skin, among others.

What Causes Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

As expected, there is no known cause that generates the entire cascade of emotions in the disorder. Although, the possibility that the root of the problem is genetic is not ruled out.

As in other disturbances of the mind, traumatic events in life could have an impact, as well as unpleasant experiences and personality characteristics.

Other studies show that adolescence, being a stage of full development and search for identity, can be a key factor in the development of body dysmorphic disorder.

What is body dysmorphic disorder? – Wellness and Health – WebMediums
Cause of body dysmorphic disorder

According to some research carried out, the most frequent age is between 12 and 13, without this meaning that it cannot occur at another age.

What happens is that adolescents become more involved with their circle of friends, adopting socially acceptable behaviors, attitudes and appearances so as not to be rejected by their group.

How does an individual with body dysmorphic disorder behave?

Clinical cases can be mild to severe, therefore, the clinical expression of the mental disorder depends on this.

Usually, people who can be categorized as mild cases feel that they are not attractive. Additionally, much of the time they may be distressed about their appearance.

Added to this, the most serious cases describe themselves as "scary" people.

As the years go by, the individual is nesting more negative thoughts about their bodily appearance.

Of course, insecurities can be identified on the surface, since they are people like low self-esteem. Other manifestations of the disease are.

  • They spend hours looking for flaws in their body.

  • They constantly compare themselves with other people, especially personalities from the entertainment world, friends or family.

  • They look in the mirror many times a day to monitor their physical appearance.

  • They look for surgeries that can change the appearance of the part of the body that they do not like.

  • They are obsessive people with physical exercise.

  • Use of makeup to hide imperfections.

  • They require other people to approve of their physical appearance.

  • They develop negative feelings such as shame, annoyance, anxiety, among others.

  • You are afraid of being rejected.

What is body dysmorphic disorder? – Wellness and Health – WebMediums
Excessive exercise

How does body dysmorphic disorder affect daily life?

Interaction with other people becomes tortuous, because the individual is insecure.

In addition to this, the disorder can extend to the work, social, academic, sentimental field, that is, there is no personal area that is not affected by the presence of this mental illness.

Also, a person with this pathology has the idea that he is observed by his social group, when the truth is that this is not the case.

It is worth mentioning that it is not a disease that should go unnoticed, since there is a series of investigations that highlight the incidence of suicidal ideas.

At the same time, this disorder does not occur alone, but there is the presence of other clinical entities that accentuate the situation, such as depression, use of illicit substances, social phobias, among others.

In turn, with the advancement of social networks, patients with this disease are more exposed to visualizing stereotypes and beauty standards that only a minority of people meet.

Therefore, the limited use of social networks is recommended, in order to minimize symptoms.

How is the diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder made?

It is important to note that the most ideal thing is that the affected person can receive a mental evaluation by a psychiatrist.

What is body dysmorphic disorder? – Wellness and Health – WebMediums
Detailing imperfections

Now, to confirm the diagnosis, a number of factors must be met, some of which are.

  • The time for perception of defects should be one hour a day, although some people can focus their energies for up to 8 hours a day.

  • The impact that the symptoms have on the normal development of the individual must be determined.

  • Identify repeated patterns.

  • Talk to the patient about the defects that bother him.

ICD10 code of body dysmorphic disorder and ICD9 code

The disease is not curable, but it is treatable. It is essential to make an early diagnosis, in order to avoid excessively negative thoughts.

However, it is good for you to know that all people feel insecurities with their body, regardless of whether they are a man or a woman and, for this reason, it does not mean that they have the mental disorder.

In relation to the foregoing, the drawback is that these behaviors become obsessive and are non-objective appraisals.

For this reason, it is good that you see a professional for mental health disorders.

Is the use of drugs required to deal with the symptoms?

Medications are not the first choice therapy, although it depends on the case. In the most serious scenarios, antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs are required.

Pharmacological therapy has to go hand in hand with psychotherapy, during the sessions the individual can begin to learn about the appearance of his body, mainly, to accept it, take care of it and respect it.

What is body dysmorphic disorder? – Wellness and Health – WebMediums
Antidepressant medications

What is expected of these cognitive behavioral therapies have the mission of channeling those emotions and that you learn to face the obsession practically.

Also, it is useful so that you can discard bad thoughts and the need to resort to unfavorable attitudes.


Although it is not an organic disorder, but a mental one, it can sometimes be downplayed.

In this sense, people with the diagnosis need emotional support throughout the process. Similarly, patience and understanding.

Finally, it is a disease that remains anonymous, since people who suffer from it do not seek professional help, which has significant emotional consequences in the life of the individual.