Body dysmorphiaisn't just a trending buzzword - it's a potentially debilitating anxiety disorder that affects roughly 5 out of every 1,000 people.
However, most people aren't aware that a subset ofbody dysmorphia,acne dysmorphia, is equally as devastating to the people who have it.
what are body dysmorphia and acne dysmorphia?
Body dysmorphia is a disorder that results in someone having a distorted view of how they look, leading to excessive worry about their appearance. Acne dysmorphia is a type ofbody dysmorphia inwhich aperson believes that their acne is much worse than it really is.Both conditions ultimately lead to (and can even stem from) anxiety.
Although we all go through periods where we may be unhappy with aspects of our appearance, this disordered way of thinking becomes constant and overwhelming.Someone withbody dysmorphiaor acne dysmorphia may be ruminating on a problem that doesn'texist.
Acne dysmorphia can occur in people:
little or no acne
a previous history of acne
Whether you have acne or not, the psychological impacts don't necessarily clear up when your skin does.
Although genetics, life experience (teasing, social expectations), brain abnormalities and cultural experiences are potential causes ofbody dysmorphiaand acne dysmorphia, we still don't fully understand the disorder or why people get it.
However, many people with acne experience low self-esteem and negative treatment by othersbecause of their acne, so it should come as no surprise that this can result in internalization and distortions of these perspectives.
symptoms of acne dysmorphia
Whilebody dysmorphiaand acne dysmorphia will look a little different foreveryone, acne dysmorphia can take the form of:
a few small pimples exaggerated as a full-scale breakout
frequent and prolonged periods spent analyzing in front of the mirror
constant worry about your skin
going to extreme lengths to cover perceived skin imperfections
excessive use of makeup
refusing to go without makeup
avoiding social settings (including work and school) due to perceived skin imperfections
constant comparison to others
an awareness that others don't see your skin as bad as you do
the knowledge that your skin isn't bad, but an inability to change your own mind and habits
a constant fear that your acne will resurface (also known as phantom acne)
why are body dysmorphia and acne dysmorphia serious?
It's easy to write off excessive worry about one's appearance as vain and trivial, but that doesn't negate the very real and potentially serious effects. Constantly worrying about our skin, especially catastrophizing and exaggerating, can greatly affect our day-to-day lives.
Body dysmorphiaand acne dysmorphia are mental health disorders, and can even lead to depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. They canalsolead to other anxious behaviors and isolation from social situations.
what can you do?
Thankfully, as with many mental health disorders, bothbody dysmorphiaand acne dysmorphia are effectively treatable by identifying, challenging and changing our distorted thought patterns.
If you suspect that you suffer frombody dysmorphia,you should seek guidance from a qualified professional forcognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication.
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