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Is Body Dysmorphia a Mental Illness?

a group supports a person in therapy

About one in five American adults live with a mental illness. These conditions alter thoughts, moods, behaviors, and perceptions of reality.

Does body dysmorphia qualify as a mental health disorder? It does because this condition changes the way a person sees themself and negatively impacts their lives.

Read on to learn more about body dysmorphia and how treatment centers can help.

What Is Body Dysmorphia?

Also known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), this mental illness places a strong emphasis on the physical perception of one’s body. A person who suffers from this illness may focus on one or more physical flaws constantly.

The flaw consumes their thoughts, alters their mood, and causes unhealthy behaviors. In many instances, the person blows their flaw out of proportion or imagines it all together.

Body Dysmorphia Symptoms

Symptoms of body dysmorphia may vary from person to person. The obsession often focuses on body weight, the face, skin, and/or hair.

This illness alters a person’s relationship with the mirror. They may gaze at themselves often or avoid seeing themself completely.

Obsessive grooming and exercising should raise a red flag for this condition. A person may even alter their body cosmetically without finding satisfaction.

You may notice somebody suffering from body dysmorphia trying to hide under makeup, clothing, or accessories. They simply cannot believe somebody is expressing that they appear fine.

As their unhealthy thoughts progress, they may stop engaging in social activities or going where they can be seen. The paranoia can lead to them physically picking at their skin to try and fix something. 

Body Dysmorphia Triggers

When the mind falls ill, specific events may trigger the onset of disorders, like BDD. A number of triggers can spark the onset of this condition.

Genetics may play a role in a number of mental illnesses. If any family members suffer from body dysmorphia, this may increase a person’s risk of having it.

Low self-esteem and fear can also bring on BDD. Bullying serves as an intense trigger, as the victim may believe the perpetrator’s mocks.

Dangers of BDD

All of this weighs heavily on the psyche. The sufferer does not do any of this in search of attention. In fact, they avoid people seeing them.

This hinders social life. You cannot keep friends when you shut people out. 

This can deconstruct their support system. Without a strong network, mental health tends to decline even further.

People with body dysmorphia may also engage in other unhealthy behaviors. A person who thinks they look fat may end up with an eating disorder. 

Many turn to drugs to cope with the constant feeling of inadequacy. Whether or not substance abuse comes into play, depression can take hold. Some people may even attempt suicide as it becomes too much to bear.

How To Help Somebody With BDD

If you notice a loved one struggling with body dysmorphia, remember that they cannot control their perception. Speak kindly, and gently remind them that they do look good despite their perception of things.

Often, people with this disorder try to hide it, because they feel embarrassed. Encourage your loved ones to speak openly and honestly about their feelings. Get them to rehab centers in Tennessee, such as Apex Recovery.

Body Dysmorphia Treatment

Body dysmorphia will not simply go away. A trained professional needs to handle these problems from their roots. It may take several types of ongoing treatment to rid a person of these obsessive thoughts.


A doctor may prescribe medications to deal with a chemical imbalance causing these thoughts. They may also use medicine to deal with underlying issues that may trigger BDD. Mental health conditions caused by BDD may require medication as well.


Multiple therapeutic approaches can help correct the skewed thinking caused by body dysmorphia. A therapist will assess the patient and decide what will work best for them.

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) helps a person recognize the flaws in their perception. They use real-life logic, measurements, and other methods to prove that their body appears different than the way that they see it.

Psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) also provide excellent treatment options. By talking through issues, the root of BDD may expose itself, making treatment easier. CBT may not change perception, but it will help the individual begin to make healthier choices.

Group therapy sessions often help as well. Here, people can see that they are not alone. Talking with others who get their feelings at a core level often creates forward progress.

Role of Treatment Centers in Treating BDD

How can rehabilitation help treat body dysmorphia? Let’s look at it in a couple of ways.

People with body dysmorphia often struggle with substance abuse as well. Regardless of which issue came first, rehab centers can help them get their life back on track.

Alcohol and drugs negatively impact brain function. Adding this to dysmorphic thinking only worsens the problem.

What If the Person Does Not Struggle With Addiction?

Addiction is also a mental illness that affects the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. While it presents itself in a different way, it does carry similarities to body dysmorphia.

While somebody struggling with addiction thinks about alcohol or drugs constantly, a person with BDD obsesses over their appearance. In both cases, life centers around how they can make themselves feel better.

The structure of rehab centers can help somebody suffering from BDD. The facilities provide inpatient care with medical support, a personalized treatment plan, and therapy programs.

Get Treatment in Tennessee for BDD

If you or a loved one suffers from body dysmorphia, look to treatment centers in Tennessee. Do not feel embarrassed or ashamed.

The stigma over mental illness prevents many people from getting better. But it takes strength to admit a problem and face it head-on!

We understand that our patients never choose to feel the way they do. If body dysmorphia has altered their reality, then we need to bring them back into their power. Reach out by email!

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689