Body dysmorphic disorder is a chronic mental disorder in which a person is obsessed with flaws in their appearance, either real or imagined.
Even minor flaws are imagined as major problems, seen as deformities, and they don’t want to be looked at by other people.
People with this disorder are intensely obsessed over their physical appearance and may find ways to “correct” the problems although they are never satisfied with the results of any procedure.
While it is normal human behavior to care for your appearance, people with body dysmorphic disorder take this to extremes. They have a constant pre-occupation with how they look, they firmly believe they have a deformity that makes them ugly and they either avoid mirrors or spend excessive amounts of time grooming themselves in front of one.
They believe that other people are staring at their deformity, they feel very self-conscious, they probably avoid going out socially and wear clothes and make-up to hide their appearance.
Many sufferers have multiple cosmetic procedures to fix their imagined shortcomings; they may be continuously grooming themselves, comparing themselves to others and refusing to have their photo taken.
This is a condition that will not just go away, and it will not improve on its own. Your friends and family cannot convince you that you have no deformity, you may become delusional and imagine worse things about yourself, and, if left untreated, may become more serious and you may even start to feel suicidal.
It is important to seek help from a doctor or counselor before the condition becomes more serious, when complications can set in.
Body dysmorphic disorder can lead to depression and anxiety disorders, substance abuse, obsessive and compulsive eating disorders, social and relationship isolation, unnecessary and multiple surgery and thoughts of suicide.
Your doctor may refer you to a specialist in the field of mental disorders, and you need not feel embarrassed about seeing this person. You have an illness which can be treated; you just need to see the appropriate specialist.
Make the decision to take an active role in your recovery. Decide on some reasons why you want to be able to manage your condition and use these as your motivation for following through with keeping appointments and following advice.
Whatever treatment is prescribed for you, ask questions about its effectiveness, possible side effects and correct dosage. Keep a daily journal of your progress throughout your treatment and note down any symptoms and feelings you experience from your treatment.
You then have a record that you can discuss with your doctor or therapist. Educate yourself about body dysmorphic disorder so that you understand your condition.
Adopt a habit of nutritional eating and mild exercise on most days of the week; these will help you feel better by increasing your energy. Take up relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga or tai chi to help you manage your condition.