If you suffer (or think you suffer) from dysmorphophobia, it is likely that you would like to better understand this particular problem. This detailed article will help you understand what this disorder is and will help you know if you suffer from it. You will also discover what treatments are available to help you.

Une femme triste qui a la dysmorphophobie devant un miroir

1. General definition


Dysmorphophobia, also known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), is a mental health disorder characterized by an excessive and obsessive preoccupation with a perceived flaw or physical appearance that is imperfect or distorted, even if that appearance is not actually present or is very slight.

These concerns, intrusive thoughts, and doubts are obsessions that are the primary source of the anxiety and suffering generated by OCD.

Dysmorphophobia belongs to the category of “obsessive-compulsive and related disorders” in the DSM-V.
While this OCD more rarely affects children, in addition to adults, it can affect adolescents.
Dysmorphophobia is thought to affect 2% of the population but is probably underestimated.

2. In everyday life…

It is a disorder through which a person does not stop thinking about one or more defects or imperfections that he/she identifies in his/her physical appearance.

These people therefore focus intensely on their appearance and body image.

People with dysmorphophobia may :

    • spend hours each day looking in the mirror,
    • comparing themselves to other people,
    • and try to hide or correct the perceived defect.

It is important to note that dysmorphophobia can have a significant impact on the quality of life of the person affected. Symptoms can be chronic and persistent, and can interfere with interpersonal relationships, work life and daily activities.

Indeed, in normal circumstances, the defect(s) that appear minor to others are a source of suffering and obsession for people with this body dysmorphic disorder.

The person will feel ashamed and embarrassed, becoming anxious that others will notice. They may also avoid social situations, have recurrent and intrusive thoughts about their appearance, and experience significant stress due to their excessive preoccupation.

Cahier avec un crayonSome people with dysmorphophobia may seek medical or surgical interventions to correct the perceived flawed appearance.

→ However, these procedures may not improve symptoms and may even worsen the condition if the person is dissatisfied with the outcome.

Il est important de noter que la dysmorphophobie n’est pas simplement une préoccupation normale de l’apparence physique, mais plutôt une préoccupation excessive et envahissante qui interfère avec la vie quotidienne de la personne.

People with dysmorphophobia may have an altered self-image and may not recognize that their preoccupation is excessive or irrational.

3. What are the differences with dysmorphia?

Dysmorphia and dysmorphophobia are both psychiatric disorders that involve a physical defect.

The difference is subtle:

→ in dysmorphophobia, the patient fears having an overly large nose, protruding ears, or huge thighs.
→ In dysmorphia, the patient is not afraid of having this defect, he or she is convinced that it exists, it is a reality for him or her and not a fear.

4. The causes


The causes of dysmorphophobia are not completely understood, but it is suggested that genetic, environmental and psychological factors may play a role in the development of the disorder.

The following factors may be triggers:

  • Childhood trauma, 
  • Negative experiences related to physical appearance, 
  • Eating disorders, 
  • Related mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.

    5. Consequences of dysmorphophobia

    Body dysmorphic disorder can lead to serious emotional and social problems, such as:
    Une femme soufrant de la dysmorphophobie regarde dans le miroir

      • depression,
      • social anxiety and social isolation
      • generalized anxiety
      • suicidal thoughts.

    → It can also have physical consequences, such as compulsive behaviors: 

      • such as scratching,
      • checking
      • camouflaging them,
      • as well as the use of repetitive cosmetic surgeries
      • or appearance-enhancing drugs.

    6. Treatments

    If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from dysmorphophobia, it is important to talk to a mental health professional for help and support.

    Treatments may vary depending on each person’s individual needs, but may include:


    • individual therapy (EMDR, relaxation, CBT, Hypnosis, TERV)
    • group therapy (peer support is important, knowing you are not alone)
    • medication (to reduce excessive preoccupation and associated compulsive behaviors in order to improve the person’s daily life)

    It is important to note that dysmorphophobia can be successfully treated, and that people with dysmorphophobia can find significant relief from their symptoms with appropriate treatment.

    7. In conclusion

    Prevention of dysmorphophobia can be difficult because the exact causes of the disorder are not known.

    → However, it is important to promote positive attitudes toward physical appearance and not stigmatize people based on their appearance.
    → It is also important to provide emotional support and mental health care to individuals who have concerns about their physical appearance.

    Dysmorphophobia is a mental health disorder characterized by an excessive and obsessive preoccupation with a perceived flawed or distorted aspect of physical appearance.

    Treatment can help reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life of the person affected.

    It is important to seek professional help if you think you or a loved one may be suffering from dysmorphophobia.

    However, here are some questions that can help you determine if you are experiencing symptoms of dysmorphophobia: