Dysmorphophobia: Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Complications, Prevention and Treatment

It is characterized by excessive thoughts and an obsession with an imaginary defect or a minor physical defect, the perception of the person is entirely disproportionate.

The person with dysmorphophobia has a bad self-image. These obsessive manifestations lead to negative or even harmful attitudes toward the person ( destructive thinking, uncontrollable emotions, disproportionate behavior, etc.).

These can affect the patient’s social, family, and professional life.

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder in which the dysmorphic person cannot stop thinking about one or more defects in their appearance. This flaw for others is minor or unobservable.

But you can feel so embarrassed and anxious that you can even avoid many social situations.

Causes of dysmorphophobia

Dysmorphophobia is an obsessive conduct disorder characterized by exaggerating a defect, which can even be imaginary. The causes of such a syndrome are poorly understood.

Like many other mental illnesses, body dysmorphic disorder can be the result of a combination of causes, such as:



Abnormalities in brain structure or neurochemistry can play a role in causing body dysmorphic disorder.


Some studies show that body dysmorphic disorder is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this condition or obsessive-compulsive disorder.


Environment, life experiences, and culture can contribute to dysmorphic disorder or dysmorphophobia, especially if they involve negative social evaluations of your body, self-image, or even child abuse or neglect.

Risk factor’s

Certain factors appear to increase the risk of developing or triggering dysmorphophobia, including:

  • Having blood relatives with dysmorphophobia or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Negative life experiences, such as teasing and childhood trauma.
  • Certain personality traits, such as perfectionism.
  • Social pressure on expectations of beauty.
  • Having another psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety or depression.

Since dysmorphophobia mainly affects adolescents, puberty is a risk factor.

Since adolescents are more concerned with their morphology, especially with significant changes in their bodies.

Complications of dysmorphophobia

Complications that can be caused by dysmorphophobia include, for example:

  • Strong depressive states or other mood disorders.
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Health problems due to behaviors such as surgery or eating disorders.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Drugs abuse.


There is no known way to prevent dysmorphophobia.

However, because body dysmorphic disorder often begins in the early teens, early identification of the disease and initiation of treatment can be beneficial.

Long-term maintenance treatment can also help prevent a relapse of symptoms.

Symptoms of dysmorphophobia

Signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include:

  • It is highly preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that cannot be seen or appears minor to others.
  • A strong belief that you have a defect in your appearance makes you ugly or misshapen.
  • The individual with dysmorphophobia believes that others pay particular attention to appearance in a negative way or are teased.
  • They were making excessive appointments with health professionals and the use of cosmetic surgery.
  • Depression, anxiety, as well as other feelings and emotions.
  • The manifestations and clinical signs of dysmorphophobia can also lead to mental disorders.
  • The need to hide the perceived flaw with makeup or clothing is difficult to resist or control or continually check the mirror.
  • Hide the body part that causes the phobia using a hat, scarf, or gloves.
  • You spend time looking in the mirror and scrutinizing this “imaginary flaw” or dislodging mirrors and shiny surfaces that may reflect your image.
  • Constantly compare your appearance with others.
  • Have perfectionist tendencies.
  • Search for frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction.
  • Avoid social gatherings.
  • You are so preoccupied with appearance that it causes significant distress or problems in your social life, work, school, or other areas of functioning.

The dysmorphophobic may become obsessed with one or more parts of his body. The feature you focus on may change over time.

The most common characteristics that obsess these types of people include:

  • The face includes the nose, complexion, wrinkles, acne, and other blemishes.
  • Hair, body appearance, obesity or low weight, and baldness.
  • The appearance of the skin and the presence of veins.
  • Breast size.
  • The size and muscle tone.
  • Genitalia

Perception of body dysmorphic disorder varies.

The obsession that the body constitution is too small or not muscular enough (muscle dysmorphia) occurs almost exclusively in men.


Treatment of dysmorphophobia includes cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. These practices make it possible for the individual to become aware that perfection does not exist.

The treatment most frequently associated with dysmorphophobia is mainly reflected in taking antidepressants.