Body Dysmorphia

This week on The LoCoFit Show, Laurin and Rick, our mental health consultant, discuss body dysmorphia. This is an extremely important episode as most competitors and chronic dieters deal with a dysmorphic view point on their bodies at some point.

Click below to watch the whole episode or continue reading for the show notes. 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)  is the preoccupation with one or more perceived defects or flaws in physical appearance that are not observable or appear slight to others. 

At some point during the course of the disorder, the individual has performed repetitive behaviors (e.g., mirror checking, excessive grooming, skin picking, reassurance seeking) or mental acts (e.g., comparing his or her appearance with that of others) in response to the appearance concerns.

The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other areas of functioning.

The appearance preoccupation is not better explained by concerns with body fat or weight in an individual whose symptoms meet diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder (bulimia or anorexia).

Muscle dysmorphia occurs when the individual is preoccupied with the idea that his or her body build is too small or insufficiently muscular. This specifier is used even if the individual is preoccupied with other body areas, which is often the case.

There are varying degrees of insight regarding body dysmorphic disorder beliefs (e.g., “I look ugly” or “I look deformed”)

  • With good or fair insight: The individual recognizes that the body dysmorphic disorder beliefs are definitely or probably not true or that they may or may not be true.
  • With poor insight: The individual thinks that the body dysmorphic beliefs are probably true.
  • With absent insight/delusional beliefs: The individual is completely convinced that the body dysmorphic beliefs are true.

In order to minimize the effects competing may have on body image, you must ask yourself:

  • What is your motivation for competing? 
  • Is it to be the best and compete and enjoy the competition side of winning? 
  • Or is it to feel better about yourself? 
  • Are you competing to make yourself important and relevant? 
  • Are you competing to be happy with yourself?

If you are competing to feel better about yourself or happier, the likely results when you’re not competing are depression, anxiety, and preoccupation with your body image.

Body dysmorphia is often not an isolated condition as  comorbidities include depressive disorder, OCD and substance use.  Individuals with BDD may use drugs or alcohol to reduce anxiety in social situations. BDD can result in depression and in some cases, suicidality.

Treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is an effective and evidence-based method of treating BDD by challenging irrational beliefs and perceptions regarding body features. However, initiating treatment may be difficult, as people with BDD may not believe their excessive fixation on what they are convinced is a flawed body part is a psychological disorder (learning a to love yourself  and see yourself as beautiful with a healthy body)!

However, treatment isn’t effective when the person is still engaging in the destructive habits.

If you feel you are experiencing BDD or similar symptoms, please contact us and we will connect you with the appropriate resources.

Be the first to know

Get exclusive, no bullshit content from our coaches that is scientifically based and experience driven.