Dysmorphophobia: What It Is, Characteristics and How to Overcome It

Dysmorphophobia is also known as body dysmorphic disorder. Specifically, it is the belief of a person that they have a physical defect or that a physical defect is more serious than it really is. Sometimes this defect is imagined. It is a fairly common disorder, although it is not known exactly how many people suffer from it since it is quite common for those who suffer from it to keep it a secret. The concern for the aforementioned defect is such that it ends up affecting daily life.

It usually begins in adolescence and affects both men and women. Although it can appear at any age and is more common in women.

If you think that it could be happening to you or someone close to you, in this article, we will talk about dysmorphophobia: what it is, its characteristics and how to overcome it.

What is dysmorphophobia

What is dysmorphophobia? The obsession with the physical defects that a person has of himself. The main cause of this disorder is low self-esteem. This is causing the person to end up having harmful thoughts about himself. This low self-esteem can come from situations of bullying, psychological abuse by parents or excessive demands on their part.

Currently with social networks that pressure for the perfect body has increased, which makes it a possible cause of the problem. Also, dysmorphophobia is common in people with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

Again, we emphasize that it is more common in adolescence since personal image and belonging to a group become very important points in the adolescent's life.

Characteristics of dysmorphophobia

Among the characteristics of dysmorphophobia, it is quite common for the person to obsessively focus on those points of their physique that they consider imperfect. In fact, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) it falls within the group of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Obsession is the idea that a part of the body is not how you would like it to be and the compulsion is, for example, constantly examining it. Delusions about these defects can be generated. In addition, they spend long periods of time in front of the mirror examining every detail of their body.

On the other hand, low self-esteem and symptoms of depression and anxiety are common. In this article, we show you what are the causes of anxiety.

In some cases, people with dysmorphophobia engage in avoidance behaviors. For example, avoiding social events in order not to be judged for your flaws. At other times, although these events are not avoided, they are a great source of stress for the person. Find out what to do when faced with stress. To hide the alleged defects, make-up, loose clothing, and certain body posture are usually used.

How can you overcome it?

If you wonder how you can overcome it, here is how to treat dysmorphophobia:

  • Psychological therapy and / or medication : to treat body dysmorphic disorder, depending on the severity, psychological therapy and / or medication are usually used. In the most serious cases it is possible to proceed to hospital admission.
  • Modification of irrational ideas and thoughts : in no way is it advisable to confront the person that their way of seeing themselves does not correspond to reality. The transformation of these types of thoughts should go in the direction of changing negative messages and speaking to yourself as you would speak to a friend or someone important in your life, with love and respect.
  • Encourage self-care : encourage it through different ways such as a good diet, exercising, taking care of personal hygiene, etc. It will be tried that the internal speech of the person is of self-love.
  • Work with the family : when necessary, work with the family so that they reduce negative messages towards their family member and collaborate in their recovery.
  • Relaxation techniques : to reduce anxiety levels.
  • Expose yourself to your own fears : it is very useful to help the person gradually expose themselves to their fears. Go to the beach in a bikini, don't wear bra padding. You have to observe yourself in the mirror but sending messages of love and not hate towards yourself.
  • Clarification and achievement of values : if the person explains to you that they consider the family important, they could be confronted about how, due to the idea they have of themselves, they are not fulfilling that important value of the family. In other words, it would help the patient to begin to give more importance to the other aspects of his life, leaving the physical aspect in the background.

In any case, to overcome dysmorphophobia it is important that you go to a professional, since it is very difficult to solve it yourself and the disorder could worsen to the point that reversing it was very complicated.