Body Dysmorphia Symptoms & Common Side-Effects

Body dysmorphic disorder is a debilitating condition that causes women and adolescent girls to worry so much about their appearance that it interferes with their daily lives.  

The Office on Women’s Health describes the feelings associated with body dysmorphic disorder as so intense that a woman or adolescent girl spends a significant amount of her day checking her appearance or trying to conceal perceived flaws. 

Common Signs of Body Dysmorphic Disorder 

Everyone has concerns about their appearance from time to time, but there are certain behaviors that might be a sign that a young girl or adult woman is suffering from body dysmorphic disorderIt may be time to reach out to a professional if you know an adolescent girl or woman who is displaying some of these behaviors. 

Here are some examples of warning signs for body dysmorphic disorder: 

  • Always compares appearance to how others look 
  • Excessively plucks, brushes, or shaves hair 
  • Continually reapplies makeup 
  • Constantly picks at skin 
  • Regularly seeks cosmetic procedures 
  • Repeatedly changes her clothes 
  • Frequently goes tanning  

Common Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder 

When a woman or young girl starts to experience the symptoms of body dysmorphia, another term used to describe body dysmorphic disorder, she has moved past the warning signs and may need professional support. 

Because each woman’s or girl’s life experiences and medical history affect how this condition impacts her mental and physical health, she may experience all or only a few of these symptoms. 

Examples of body dysmorphic disorder symptoms include: 

  • Spends an hour or more a day focusing on appearance or perceived flaws 
  • Performs repetitive behaviors to alleviate concerns about her appearance 
  • Struggles to function on a day-to-day basis 
  • Feels self-loathing and disgust 

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) says that clinicians can evaluate the severity of a woman’s symptoms by identifying the degree of insight she has regarding her body dysmorphic beliefs, or how true she feels those beliefs are. 

  • With good or fair insight: A woman or adolescent girl recognizes that the body dysmorphic beliefs are definitely or probably not true or that they may or may not be true. 
  • With poor insight: A woman or adolescent girl thinks that the body dysmorphic beliefs are probably true. 
  • With absent/delusional beliefs: A woman or adolescent girl is completely convinced that the body dysmorphic beliefs are true. 

The severity level of a woman’s body dysmorphic disorder symptoms should not be a barrier to seeking professional care. Timberline Knolls can help women and adolescent girls regardless of the severity of the body dysmorphic disorder symptoms they are experiencing. 

Common Causes & Risk Factors of Body Dysmorphic Disorder 

Medical experts have yet to identify an exact reason why certain individuals are more likely to develop body dysmorphic disorder. However, there are some factors that can increase a woman’s or girl’s risk for experiencing body dysmorphia. 

Here are some examples of the causes and risk factors that can lead to the onset of body dysmorphic disorder: 

  • Parent or sibling who has body dysmorphic disorder 
  • Parent or sibling who has another form of mental illness 
  • Possessing certain personality traits (e.g., perfectionism) 
  • History of childhood neglect and abuse 
  • Bullied or teased as a child 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder Statistics 

  • The International OCD Foundation reports that about one in 50 people in the United States is struggling with body dysmorphic disorder. 
  • Body dysmorphic disorder might be more prevalent, but many people are hesitant to share the symptoms they are experiencing. 
  • People who are seen in healthcare settings such as cosmetic surgery, cosmetic dentistry, adult orthodontia, dentistry, and mental health are at a higher risk for suffering from body dysmorphic disorder. 

Effects of Body Dysmorphic Disorder 

Body dysmorphic disorder can cause significant damage to the life of a woman or young girl if she waits to seek professional support or programming.  

Body dysmorphia can affect each woman or adolescent girl differently depending on various factors, such as how long she has suffered from body dysmorphic disorder, whether she has gotten help in the past, and her genetic makeup. 

Here are examples of common effects of body dysmorphic disorder: 

  • Inability to leave the house 
  • Job loss 
  • Drops out of or fails school 
  • Diminished relationships with friends and family 
  • Inability to be intimate with partner 
  • Financial troubles or bankruptcy 
  • Suicidal ideation or suicide attempts 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder Relapse 

We help every woman or girl who comes to Timberline Knolls find her own path to recovery from body dysmorphic disorder. Our experts individualize each woman’s or girl’s experience to ensure that the therapies and interventions we provide are as beneficial as possible. 

Healing from body dysmorphic disorder will likely be a lifelong journey, and you may encounter some setbacks along the way. Even after your time at Timberline Knolls, you may find moments in which you feel the urge to engage in the same behaviors that caused you to seek professional care. 

We will prepare you for any setbacks that may occur, but if you do find yourself experiencing body dysmorphic disorder symptoms at any point, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. 

Common Underlying or Co-Occurring Conditions 

It’s not uncommon for women or adolescent girls to struggle with both body dysmorphic disorder and other mental health conditions or addiction concerns. The combination of multiple symptoms and effects can make it even more difficult to function on a daily basis. 

The expert team at Timberline Knolls can address any co-occurring concerns or underlying disorders so that you experience successful, long-term recovery from body dysmorphic disorder. 

For more information on the types of disorders that can co-occur with body dysmorphic disorder, visit the Mayo Clinic. 

This content was reviewed and approved by the clinical staff at Timberline Knolls. 


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