Body dysmorphic disorder can be a vicious cycle – a trap leading to unhealthy eating and exercise patterns resulting in eating disorders.
Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental illness in which an individual obsesses over minor
or imagined physical flaws. A person suffering from body dysmorphic disorder tends
to view his or her appearance differently than others view them. Oftentimes they are so
ashamed of their appearance that they struggle to be seen by others.
Someone who has body dysmorphic disorder will obsess over fixing their appearance flaws, but will never be satisfied. This could manifest itself in a patient receiving multiple plastic surgeries or a serious eating disorder or over-exercise disorder.
Even with surgery or a developed eating disorder, the sufferer will never be able to see
him or herself in a positive light. For example, a girl suffering from anorexia may look in
the mirror and see herself as “fat,” even though she has starved herself down to skin and
There are several symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, which can be treated with medication or therapy.
o Preoccupation with your physical appearance
o Strong belief that you have an abnormality or defect in your appearance that
makes you ugly
o Frequent examination of yourself in the mirror or, conversely, avoidance of
o Belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way
o The need to seek reassurance about your appearance from others
o Frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction
o Excessive grooming, such as hair plucking
o Extreme self-consciousness
o Refusal to appear in pictures
o Skin picking
o Comparison of your appearance with that of others
o Avoidance of social situations
o The need to wear excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws
If you or someone you know suffers from any of the above symptoms, it’s time to seek
professional help. The trap of body dysmorphic disorder can be deadly, especially if it
results in an eating disorder or compulsive exercise disorder.