Body Dysmorphia: The Unhealthy Obsession With Perfection

All of us have experienced negative thought patterns regarding some of our body parts or our bodies as a whole in general. On days like these, we feel insecure about our appearance and wish to change it. And it is perfectly normal to have these days where you aren’t thrilled by the image of yourself you see in the mirror. What’s not normal is having a compulsive obsession with one’s looks, constant negative thoughts about your body, and beliefs that there are specific flaws inside you that you need to fix. If you find yourself going through these situations, you might be suffering from a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder termed body dysmorphia (BDD).

Body dysmorphia is one of the most commonly misunderstood mental health issues and is barely discussed in the public domain. This is because, in a world swamped with the culture of selfies and millions of products to make yourself look better, worries and issues of a person regarding their appearance are often brushed aside. 

To spread much-needed awareness on the issues, let us dive deeper into what is body dysmorphia, its symptoms, its causes, and treatment options.

symptoms of body dysmorphia

What is body dysmorphia?

Body dysmorphia is being obsessed with a perceived flaw in an individual’s body that is non-existent or barely noticeable to other people. However, these flaws make the affected individual feel unattractive, deformed, or hideous. These obsessions can concern any part of the body, though mainly the focus lies on the skin, hair, or face. These thoughts drive the person toward ritualistic behavioral and mental acts like constantly looking in the mirror or trying to hide a particular body part, and in extreme cases, even cosmetic surgeries. 

As per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), body dysmorphia affects 2.4% of adults in the country. Now that you know what is body dysmorphia let us understand the symptoms of the condition as per the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual-V (DSM-V).

Read more: Difference Between OCD And ADHD.


The common symptoms of body dysmorphia include:

  • being hyper-focused on one’s appearance,
  • negative self-talk like telling yourself you are “ugly, deformed, or unattractive,”
  • negative thoughts about your hair, skin, face, or other body parts,
  • constantly checking yourself out in the mirror,
  • asking for reassurances about your appearance,
  • constant comparisons with other people,
  • dropping out of social activities, and in extreme cases, not leaving your house, and
  • getting cosmetic treatments done and never being happy with the results.


Researchers and mental health professionals are unsure about the exact causes of body dysmorphia. Like other mental health issues, the cause of the disorder can be linked to certain genes and adverse life experiences like bullying, extreme teasing, abuse, or neglect.

People with body dysmorphia tend to process what they see in people differently. Therefore they can end up analyzing and over-analyzing people’s actions. This can lead to negative thoughts and ultimately manifest into symptoms of BDD. 

Treatment Options

The primary treatment options for BDD are cognitive-behavioral therapy aimed at restructuring negative thought patterns and anti-depressant medications. The end goal of the treatment is to:

  • reduce and ultimately eliminate negative thoughts and obsessions,
  • foster trigger recognition, and
  • improve stress management associated with the symptoms.

Read more: Best Online Therapy Platforms.


Body dysmorphia is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder that makes a person obsesses over their physical appearance and try to fix a non-existential or barely visible bodily flaw. While there are no known ways to prevent BDD, with proper help, one can learn to lessen the disorder’s impact on their life. That is why talking about your issues and asking for adequate help are keys to effective recovery.

Now that you know what is body dysmorphia, let us take you one step forward. Do you know that there are seven other types of OCD? To read more about them, click here.

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