McCallum Place is a nationally acclaimed eating disorder treatment center that has helped change the lives of individuals who struggle with body dysmorphia. Proudly serving St. Louis, Missouri and Kansas City, McCallum Place is the premier provider of eating disorder treatment for adolescents and adults of all genders.
What is Body Dysmorphia?
Body dysmorphia is an extreme preoccupation or obsession with a perceived defect or flaw in one’s own physical appearance. This flaw can be a slight imperfection that is viewed out of proportion or a completely imagined flaw. Body parts and features commonly obsessed about by individuals suffering from body dysmorphia include nose size or shape, hair, skin imperfections, moles or freckles, breast size, muscle size, or weight and body size. Individuals who are more likely to develop body dysmorphia include those who have biological relatives with the disorder, who encountered childhood teasing, who have low self-esteem, and who are driven by a strong desire to achieve perfection. Because body dysmorphia can progress if left untreated and often leads to the development of eating disorders including anorexia or bulimia, individuals suffering from body dysmorphia should receive treatment for this disorder from a professional therapist or an eating disorder treatment center, such as McCallum Place Eating Disorder Centers in St. Louis and Kansas City.
Body dysmorphia is a chronic mental illness in which individuals obsess over some perceived flaw in their appearance. This obsession typically takes over the person’s life to the point where they are unwilling to be seen in public and may take drastic and dangerous actions in an attempt to fix or hide the flaw. The two main types of body dysmorphia include non-delusional dysmorphia, where a person exaggerates a minor flaw, or delusional body dysmorphia, where a person has hallucinations of an imagined defect. In either case, the imagined flaws are typically inexistent or mostly unnoticeable by others.
While body dysmorphic disorder does not only appear in cases of individuals suffering from eating disorders, there appears to be some overlap between individuals suffering from body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders. Additionally, body dysmorphic disorder, if it remains untreated for long periods of time, can move to an obsession with additional or different body parts and can even develop into an eating disorder including anorexia or bulimia.
Individuals suffering from anorexia show an extremely distorted body image as they are driven by an overwhelming fear of being fat and an obsession that no matter how much weight they lose, it is still not enough. Therefore, these individuals often see themselves as being much larger than they are even despite being extremely underweight. Additionally, individuals suffering from bulimia may also suffer from body dysmorphic disorder in which they view their body as much larger or fatter than it actually is.
Symptoms of Body Dysmorphia?
Symptoms of Body Dysmorphia
Individuals who suffer from body dysmorphia exhibit a number of symptoms. For example, these individuals will intensely obsess over flaws or general appearance and body image for many hours a day. They may also seek out numerous cosmetic surgeries to attempt to fix these flaws, but they will never be satisfied. Other signs and symptoms that you may suffer from body dysmorphia include:
- Preoccupation with your physical appearance and body image
- Strong belief that you have an abnormality or defect in your physical appearance
- Frequently examining yourself in the mirror or avoiding mirrors altogether
- Believing that others view your physical appearance negatively
- Excessive grooming, including hair plucking
- Refusing to pose for or take part in pictures
- Frequent skin picking or touching
- Continually comparing your appearance to that of others
- Avoiding social situations
- Wearing excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws
Complications of Body Dysmorphia
A major complication of body dysmorphia occurs when body dysmorphic disorder leads to the development of an eating disorder. Individuals suffering from body dysmorphic disorder and an eating disorder will often perceive themselves as too large or overweight and will adopt anorexia or bulimic behaviors in an attempt to control weight. In this case, the complications of body dysmorphia are those health risks related to the eating disorder itself. For body dysmorphia that does not result in the development of an eating disorder, there still can be potentially dangerous and life threatening complications that can occur, though not as a direct result of body dysmorphia. Regardless, if you suffer from body dysmorphia, it is important to seek help from a health provider or McCallum Place Eating Disorder Centers as the disorder can become worse over time if left untreated.
Some potential secondary complications that body dysmorphia may cause or otherwise be associated with include:
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders
- Social phobias
- Substance abuse
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty attending work or school
- Lack of close relationships
- Excessive, unnecessary medical procedures, especially cosmetic surgery
Recognizing Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Eating Disorders
If you believe that you or a loved one is suffering from body dysmorphia and/or an eating disorder it is important to look out for signs of eating disorders. Additionally, the following signs can help determine if an individual suffers from body dysmorphic disorder:
- Displaying an overly negative body image or self-esteem
- Obsessively checking one’s appearance in mirrors and other reflective surfaces
- Grooming excessively
- Showing reduced or poor performance at work or school
- Obsessing over one’s physical appearance and qualities
- Utilizing extreme diet and exercise behaviors
- Undergoing numerous cosmetic surgery operations without satisfaction
- Avoiding social gatherings and social situations
- Comparing one’s physical appearance with others
- Touching the skin and picking at the skin to smooth it
Treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Related Eating Disorders
Because of the potentially deadly complications of the eating disorders that can result from body dysmorphic disorder, if you believe that you or a loved one may be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder and/or an eating disorder, it is important to contact a therapist or an eating disorder specialist to begin a treatment program.
McCallum Place Eating Disorder Centers are eating disorder treatment facilities that offers a variety of eating disorder treatment programs in St. Louis and Kansas City. Our treatment centers use a combination of treatment methods to address any body dysmorphic thoughts regarding size, shape, or weight, which may be contributing to the development and continuation of eating disorders. Using therapy to address body dysmorphic disorder and any distorted thoughts and perceptions of a person’s body image can help eating disorder treatment programs to be more effective, especially for long-term recovery. An ultimate goal during treatment for body dysmorphic disorders as well as eating disorders is to help the individual develop a positive self-image and improved self-esteem.