Symptoms

  • Anxiety and depression related to appearance
  • Obsessing over a single perceived flaw in appearance
  • Spending excessive time looking in mirrors
  • Excessive grooming and exercise
  • Anorexia
  • Bulimia

Causes

It’s possible that physical abnormalities can cause body dysmorphia.  There are also sociological hypotheses about the effects of a cultural overemphasis on physical appearance and beauty.  Fear of and prevalence of obesity in a society have been shown to predict occurrence of body image disorders.  There are also theories that mass media can play a role in exposing young people to a distorted perception of the world and can lead to a psychological obsession with perfection.

Treatment

The physical and behavioral aspects of body image disorders can be treated by teaching healthy means of exercise and the importance of eating a balanced and proper diet.  The psychological aspects can be treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, in which a psychotherapist aims to find the underlying beliefs that cause the client distress and restructure these beliefs as the client adjusts their body image.