What is Face Dysmorphia? Causes, Symptoms, Effects and Treatment
Have you ever felt like maybe your facial appearance is not good enough and felt insecure about yourself? Feeling too anxious about one’s facial features can be related to a psychological disorder known as “ Face Dysmorphia”. Issues related to Skin, Facial features, teeth, and facial hair can be a part of face dysmorphia.
According to the American Psychological Association, Facial dysmorphia is a condition where the person is “a preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in appearance.” These inaccurate and almost always negative self-perceptions can lead to people with facial dysmorphia obsessing over certain features of their physical appearance to the point where it severely impacts their lives.
Causes of Face Dysmorphia
A specific cause of the following cannot be stated; however, let’s look into the factors due to which such a disorder might come into existence.
- The environment we inhabit. Social pressures and cultural influences, perpetuated through media, advertising, and social media, can shape our perception of beauty and create unrealistic standards. Constant exposure to these ideals can lead to unfavorable self-comparisons and a distorted view of our own appearance.
- Traumatic events, such as physical or sexual abuse, can also contribute to the development of FDD. When these experiences are connected to one's physical appearance, they can profoundly impact one's self-image and trigger obsessive thoughts and concerns about perceived flaws.
- Cognitive factors play a significant role in FDD. Distorted thinking patterns, such as fixating on specific features, engaging in relentless self-criticism, or magnifying perceived flaws, can perpetuate and exacerbate the disorder.
By understanding and addressing these underlying influences, we can gain insights into the complex nature of facial dysmorphia and take steps towards promoting healthier perceptions of ourselves and others.
Symptoms of Face Dysmorphia
Although many of us are unsatisfied with our appearance, it does not mean we have Face Dysmorphia. Facial dysmorphia is a subset of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a mental health condition characterized by excessive anxiety and preoccupation with one's body or perceived physical flaws. Some symptoms of this condition includes:
➢ Constantly obsessing over and feeling distressed about specific aspects of your facial appearance that you believe are flawed or abnormal
➢ The individual's primary focus is on their face, leading to heightened concerns and distress regarding their facial features.
➢ A person’s concern about their nose, eyes, or wrinkles can even be about their face being too thin or broad; all that relates to the face can be categorized under the same.
How Face Dysmorphia affects our daily life
➢ Facial dysmorphia can significantly impact various aspects of your life, causing you to withdraw from social activities, hinder your performance in professional settings, and consume your thoughts and emotions.
➢ It's alarming to note that individuals with facial dysmorphia and body dysmorphic disorder face an increased risk of suicide, underscoring the crucial importance of seeking support from a mental health professional and prioritizing your journey towards treatment.
1. Utilize positive self-talk and replace negative thoughts with affirming ones. Acknowledge your intelligence, your qualities as a good friend, and your competence in your job.
2. Stop worrying about what others think. Remind yourself that during a Zoom™ call, people are not as focused on your perceived flaws as you might believe. They are likely preoccupied with their own appearance on the call.
3. Keep in mind that social media does not reflect reality. Recognize that the images and posts on social media are often heavily filtered and curated. Comparing yourself to those standards is unfair because, in real life, people don't look exactly like their social media presentations.
Sometimes, seeking assistance from a mental health professional is essential, as managing facial dysmorphia on your own can be incredibly challenging.
In some instances, medication may also be necessary. Remember, reaching out for professional help can be a crucial step towards finding relief and improving your overall well-being.
The treatment of facial dysmorphia typically involves a multidimensional approach that addresses both the underlying psychological factors and the distress caused by the perceived facial flaws. If your concerns about your facial appearance are causing significant emotional distress, anxiety, depression, or interfering with your daily functioning, it is time to seek therapy.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) CBT is the main therapy for BDD and facial dysmorphia. If you have been diagnosed with facial dysmorphia or BDD by a qualified mental health professional, CBT is often recommended as one of the primary treatment options. It aims to identify and challenge distorted thoughts about appearance. It focuses on developing coping strategies and reducing avoidance behaviors. Antidepressant medications like SSRIs may also be prescribed to relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies related to facial dysmorphia.
- Engaging in supportive therapy or counseling can provide a safe space to express emotions and receive guidance. Supportive therapy may involve techniques such as validation, empathy, and emotional support. Some individuals may also benefit from specialized interventions that target body image concerns, such as mirror exposure therapy or perceptual retraining. These techniques aim to gradually reduce distress and avoidance behaviors related to perceived flaws. There are numerous online communities and forums dedicated to BDD and facial dysmorphia where individuals can share their stories, seek advice, and provide support to one another. Websites such as Reddit, Psych Forums, or Daily Strength have specific sections or groups related to BDD where you can connect with others facing similar challenges. Some therapists or mental health professionals may also facilitate group therapy sessions specifically for individuals with BDD or facial dysmorphia.
Facial dysmorphia and body dysmorphia are typically diagnosed by a mental health professional. The diagnosis is based on the kind of symptoms you’re experiencing and how much those symptoms are interfering in your life.
To know more about Facial Hair & Gender read here
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