Body dysmorphic disorder counselling can really help transform the way suffers view themselves and their bodies. Often people with body dysmorphic disorder can also suffer from self harm and other issues, body dysmorphic disorder counselling can help deal with these issues and others that attached to it and stop them spiral process from getting out of control.
If you are suffering from body dysmorphic disorder or need some help and advice from our body dysmorphic disorder counsellors please call we are here to help and together we can move you forward to a happier life.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is an illness that is considered to be an anxiety disorder. The disorder itself causes the sufferer to have a warped view of their appearance. This means that people who suffer from the disorder think that the way the look, something about their body is ugly, when in actual fact, it isn’t. One of the main symptoms that sufferers have is that they spend a lot of time looking in mirrors, looking at themselves. On the other hand, they may try to avoid mirrors at all costs. Another part of this illness is that sufferers may want to change their appearance, such as wearing a lot of make-up.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a condition that can lead to depression, and possibly, loss of life through suicide. One thing to point out is that due to the nature of this condition, many people see sufferers as full of themselves, which is not the case and this can stop the sufferer from wanting to get help. The disorder can also lead to mental health problems if left untreated. Counselling can help sufferers understand the root cause of their illness and learn how to manage their feelings day-to-day.
What is body dysmorphic disorder?
Throughout their lives, many people feel unhappy about their appearance, wishing they could look better. These feelings can come and go and don’t impact a person’s life too much. However, if someone is suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, it can be a whole lot worse. Many people see themselves as unattractive, and that feeling doesn’t go away. If a person believes that they are unattractive, then it leads them to thinking that other people see them this way too. This also happens with friends and family when they try to reassure the sufferer, they simply cannot see past the negatives.
Having all of these negatives thoughts can make a sufferer of the illness hide away and not want to be seen by other people and themselves. They will try to hide up their ‘flaws’ by spending hours on end in the house, not wanting people to see them. There are similar symptoms between people, but the causes of the illness can differ greatly between people.
Who does it affect?
Through studies, it has been found that around 530,000 people suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder. However, as the illness is in general quite secretive, then these numbers may not truly represent the amount of people with the illness. The illness itself can effect anybody of any race and gender. In the past, the illness was seen to effect more woman then men, but that number has been changing over the last few years.
What causes body dysmorphic disorder?
Like many illnesses, there are no clear reason why people get Body Dysmorphic Order as the circumstances for several people will be different. Some things that could be a cause includes chemical imbalance within the brain or even genes passed down from parent to child. Many people who suffer from anxiety of OCD may have a greater chance of developing the illness. There is also a cycle with people who suffer with eating disorders, as they can feel like they don’t look nice and thus, moves in Body Dysmorphic Order territory and the cycle continues. A major probable cause is past experience, such as a person being bullied over their appearance, as this can carry over and make a person feel like they don’t look nice or don’t look normal.
Body dysmorphic disorder symptoms
Body dysmorphic disorder is a similar illness to that of OCD as it has many symptoms that are similar, such as causing the sufferers to obsess and develop compulsions.
Sufferers may have one or more of the following concerns about themselves:
- Facial features
- Particular areas of the body such as the breasts, legs or stomach
- Feeling as if your body unbalanced
- Feeling as if one of your features is out of proportion to the rest of the body.
Symptoms of the illness tend to vary between people, however, many of the symptoms include:
- Comparing looks with other people
- Avoiding mirrors
- Anxiety when around other people
- Seeking medical treatment or cosmetic surgery for the perceived defect
- Excessive dieting
- Excessing exercise
- Being secretive about feelings
Many sufferers also develop obsessions and compulsions. Examples of such things are listed below:
- Spending excessive amounts of time on covering up their ‘flaws’
- Brushing or styling hair obsessively, every day
- Wearing baggy clothes to disguise their body shape
- Checking their 'flaws' constantly
Body dysmorphic disorder treatment
There are many different ways you can treat Body Dysmorphic Disorder, but the first port of call would be to go to your doctor. Like anything, the earlier the illness is diagnosed and the sooner treatment begins, the better chance you have of overcoming it. There is no single cure for the illness, however, there are many treatments that you can take.
If you go and see your doctor, the first they that they will do is go through your circumstances and offer you some information on self-help and also, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. CBT is a type of therapy that is used to change the way you think about something and the way you behave in a specific event or around something. One thing that you can do is talk and set up some personal goals that you want to achieve, as this can help you stay focused and start your path to recovery.
Many sufferers of the illness also attend special support groups as you are able to meet other people who are going through the same thing as you, and you can ask them about their experiences and how they cope/what they are doing to help themselves. However, many people find that CBT and/or self-help isn’t working for them. If this is the case, then you could be put on to some kind of anti-depressant medication or a different kind of CBT. You can also get counselling to help you. Or, if you like, you can get a mixture of treatments, to see which one works better for you.
If you find the CBT and self-help is not working, it is important to go back to your doctor. At this point you may be referred for more intensive CBT or a course of anti-depressants. Other forms of talking therapy and counselling can also be helpful and for some it is a combination of treatments that work best.
How to help yourself
There are many ways in which you can help yourself if you suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Having help from a professional is a vital part of the recovery process, however, you can also do certain things to help yourself. These include:
Focus on the positive
Focusing on the positives is a great way to help yourself through the recovery process. One of the things you can do is not focus on your appearance, think about the parts of you that you like, the things that make you unique. You are more than just a body, so keep yourself thinking about the parts of you that make you, you. Staying positive is the best way to stay focused and on-track.
Aim for a healthy body
Thinking about the way your body looks is not going to help you though this process. Instead, it’s much better to keep on thinking about how you can keep your body healthy. What things can you do during your day that can help your body? Healthy eating and exercising can make you feel better and can also reduce depression – something that you may experience with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Make sure you don’t go overboard and exercise excessively.
Tune into your body
One of the things that you can do is be aware of what your body is capable of. If you realize just how far you can go, that can shed a new light on things and offer you a greater perspective of what you can do. This can also help with staying positive. Such things as Yoga or dance can also help you think positively.
Avoid negative influences
This extends from ‘staying positive’. Avoiding negative comments or thoughts that may come from TV shows, films or magazines can help a great deal. Don’t bother reading things that could make you think less of yourself, just focus on the positives. You could put energy into something else, such as reading a book or learning a new skill.
Create a support network
Another thing that you can do that can really help is to create a support network. This means that you surround yourself with people who like you for who you are and will encourage you through your recovery process. People who make you feel positive and happy can also help you through difficult times. If people are making you feel uncomfortable, then spend less time with them, giving your energy and time to people who actually matter to you.
Take time to help those around you
You can get people to help you, but one of the best things you can do is to help other people. Getting away from it all or ‘out of your head’ can help and gives you a bit of breathing space. If you are helping those who have more problems than you or are ill themselves, this can make you forget about your problems for a while, which can be a nice little escape – even if its only for a limited amount of time.
How can counselling help?
One of the worst things that people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder do is keep things to themselves and to stay quiet. Sufferers may feel as though their own problems aren’t worth the time of day, which is, not true. People may also be embarrassed about their illness, which can also result in them not speaking out about it. One of the main things you can do is to speak to a professional, such as a counsellor.
With the help of a counsellor, you can talk about how you are feeling and the counsellor will be able to help you to understand why you are having these thoughts and why you feel this way about yourself or a certain experience that you have/have had. If your counsellor isn’t trainer with CBT, then they will be able to recommend someone who is, which is a necessity when dealing with this kind of illness. Many people suffering with anxiety disorders find CBT to be helpful.
With counselling and treatment as a whole, its important to contact your doctor as soon as possible and then move onto more serious treatments, such as a counsellor. It is then up to you how you wish to proceed and what course of treatment you would like to try.