According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), one may become diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder if he or she has a strong obsession with one or more perceived defects or flaws in physical appearance that are not visible or appear minor to others. These perceived flaws can cause the individual to feel ugly and abnormal as well as hideous or monster-like. Any body area can be the focus of concern, but individuals commonly worry about their skin, hair, or nose.

Diagnostic Criteria for Body Dysmorphic Disorder DSM-5 300.7 (F45.22)

Although certain elements of the disorder vary from person to person, there are a few pieces of criterion that the DSM-5 have defined in order for one to be diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder:

  • The individual obsesses over one or more apparent flaws in his or her physical appearance that are not visible or a big deal to others.
  • At some point, the individual has performed recurrent behaviors like frequently looking in the mirror, excessively grooming, or comparing his or her appearance to another’s
  • This obsession causes clinically significant distress or impairment in his or her social or work life.
  • The individual’s preoccupation with his or her appearance cannot be explained by concerns with body fat or weight, which may be symptomatic of an eating disorder.

Specifications for Body Dysmorphic Disorder DSM-5 300.7 (F45.22)

It’s important to make certain specifications regarding body dysmorphic disorder in order to gage different aspects such as seriousness of the condition. It should be specified if and when:

  • An individual has muscle dysmorphia, whereas the individual is consumed by the idea that his or her physique is too small or inadequately muscular (even if preoccupied with other body areas as well).
  • An individual has good or fair insight, and he or she recognizes that the body dysmorphic disorder beliefs are definitely or probably false or that they could be false.
  • An individual has poor insight, and he or she thinks that the body dysmorphic disorder beliefs are probably true.
  • An individual has absent insight/delusional beliefs and is without a doubt convinced that the body dysmorphic disorder beliefs are true.

Who Is at Risk of Developing Body Dysmorphic Disorder DSM-5 300.7 (F45.22)?

Body dysmorphic disorder has been associated with a couple environmental and genetic factors: its existence correlates with high rates of childhood abuse and its prevalence is raised in immediate relatives of those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Only 2.4% of U.S. adults (2.5% in females and 2.2% in males) suffer with the disorder, but those who do are likely to develop it around the age of 12 or 13. And while body dysmorphic disorder occurs even in the elderly, individuals with the disorder insetting before age 18 are more likely to attempt suicide and suffer from major depressive disorder as well.

Treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder

It’s important to first consider other disorders or explanations for feelings of body dysmorphia, such as normal appearance concerns, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, other obsessive-compulsive disorders, and so on. But if body dysmorphic disorder is diagnosed there are a couple treatment options:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: this will help individuals challenge negative thoughts about their body image and adapt a more realistic way of thinking, as well as learn about alternate ways to handle urges that come with the disorder such as excessive mirror-checking.
  • Medications: medications, such as antidepressants, used to treat disorders such as depression may be effective here.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder on the Big Screen

Disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, are commonly portrayed in television and movie dramas, but there is a definite lack of ones that depict those suffering with body dysmorphia. However, I can still so clearly recall a childhood favorite that attempted to tackle the tough subject: Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire, in episode “Inner Beauty”.

  • Synopsis: Miranda, Lizzie’s best friend, starts to see inexistent flaws in herself when their other friend Gordo makes a simple comment: “Wow, you sure do eat a lot.” While he was just joking about Lizzie and Miranda pigging out on chips, she took it to heart and starts to see an incorrect version of herself, saying at one point, “How come no one ever told me I have six chins?” By the end of the episode, Miranda’s friends have helped her see through her inaccurate image of herself.
  • Diagnosis: While Miranda shows signs of body dysmorphic disorder, like obsessing over falsely perceived flaws, the episode does not go into enough detail to make a sure diagnosis led by the criteria set in place by the DSM-5.
  • Conclusion: Miranda is portrayed as an average, awkward teenager in Lizzie McGuire. This reminds us that anyone can develop such disorders as body dysmorphic disorder, and they are not to be downplayed or shamed. We should follow Lizzie and Gordo’s lead in helping and supporting those who need it.

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