Most people are dissatisfied or self-conscious with some aspect of the way they look. However, if your appearance is causing you a large amount of distress and you spend a lot of your day worrying about it, then your concern may have become excessive. You may have noticed that much of your days are taken up with thoughts about the way you look, frequently checking your appearance in the mirror, or avoiding mirrors all together. The concern may be about a particular feature that you believe looks ugly or disfigured. If this sounds familiar, this could indicate some of the behaviours that are associated with body dysmorphia.
Body Dysmorphia refers to a distressing, continuous preoccupation with an apparent defect in one’s appearance. Some common focuses of obsession in individuals with Body Dysmorphia include skin appearance (e.g. scaring), facial features (e.g. shape and size of nose) or another body part (such as arms, breasts or buttocks). However, someone with Body Dysmorphia may have an obsession with any aspect of their appearance. Body dysmorphic disorder also affects women and men equally. For example, men may worry that they are not muscular enough (i.e., muscle dysmorphia) or that they are going bald.
If you have Body Dysmorphia, you may recognise some of the indications below:
If you are overly concerned about your physical appearance, and it has begun to affect your daily functioning, it is time to consult a psychologist. Often people with Body Dysmorphia seek cosmetic procedures in order to ‘fix’ the perceived flaw, even after family and friends insist they cannot see the flaw. However, those who pursue treatments/procedures are generally left feeling worse about themselves or the preoccupation moves to another area of the body. Consequently, psychological support is crucial and should be sought.
Treatment by a psychologist at VCPS will involve: