Signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include:

  • Preoccupation with your physical appearance with extreme self-consciousness
  • Frequent examination of yourself in the mirror, or the opposite, avoidance of mirrors altogether
  • Strong belief that you have an abnormality or defect in your appearance that makes you ugly
  • Belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Feeling the need to stay housebound
  • The need to seek reassurance about your appearance from others
  • Frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction
  • Excessive grooming, such as hair plucking or skin picking, or excessive exercise in an unsuccessful effort to improve the flaw
  • The need to grow a beard or wear excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws
  • Comparison of your appearance with that of others
  • Reluctance to appear in pictures

You may obsess over any part of your body, and the body feature you focus on may change over time. But common features people may obsess about include:

  • Face, such as nose, complexion, wrinkles, acne and other blemishes
  • Hair, such as appearance, thinning and baldness
  • Skin and vein appearance
  • Breast size
  • Muscle size and tone
  • Genitalia

You may be so convinced about your perceived flaws that you imagine something negative about your body that's not true, no matter how much someone tries to convince you otherwise. Concern over and thinking about the perceived flaw can dominate your life, leading to absence from work, school or social situations due to extreme self-consciousness.

When to see a doctor

Shame and embarrassment about your appearance may keep you from seeking treatment for body dysmorphic disorder. But if you have any signs or symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, see your doctor, mental health provider or other health professional. Body dysmorphic disorder usually doesn't get better on its own, and if untreated, it may get worse over time and lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior.

May. 09, 2013

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