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Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder in Melbourne

Most people are dissatisfied or self-conscious with some aspect of their appearance. However, if you are so distressed about the way you look that it interferes with daily life, you may be experiencing Body Dysmorphic Disorder. You may have noticed that much of your days are taken up with thoughts about the way you look, or frequently check your appearance in the mirror or avoid mirrors all together. The concern may be about a particular feature that looks ugly or even disfigured. But don't lose hope, overcoming your body image concerns is possible.

Indications that a person may be experiencing Body Dysmorphic Disorder include:

  • Low self-esteem, depression, shame and guilt
  • Engaging in repetitive behaviours such as looking in a mirror, picking at the skin, covering up or examining the area of concern
  • Fear of negative evaluation by others
  • Feeling self-conscious, not wanting to go out in public or have photos taken
  • Experiencing problems at work, school, or in relationships due to concerns about appearance

Some people may have concerns involving body symmetry or skin texture. Whether it is a particular facial feature (such as nose, lips or teeth) or another body part (such as arms, breasts or buttocks), a large proportion of attention is devoted to the area. Body dysmorphic disorder affects women and men equally. Men may worry that they are not muscular enough (i.e., muscle dysmorphia) or that they are going bald.

Cosmetic procedures.

Often people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder seek cosmetic procedures, consulting dermatologists, cosmetic surgeons or dentists to fix the perceived flaw in appearance. However, those who pursue medical treatments are generally left feeling worse about themselves or the preoccupation moves to another area of the body. Consequently, psychological support before, during or after procedures can be of great benefit.


Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that is present-focused and goal-directed. The goal of this treatment is to reduce an individual’s negative thoughts about their appearance and their compulsive behaviours—the rituals they use to quell their anxiety. This treatment is effective for many people with the disorder, and the body image concerns that have lasted for years can often be resolved. Patients learn to “see the big picture.” For example, patients learn to view themselves more holistically and nonjudgmentally when in front of the mirror.

If you would like more information about treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder at VCPS, please contact us.