What Are The Causes Of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The causes of body dysmorphic disorder range from biochemical to societal. Body dysmorphic disorder is characterized by an unnatural obsession with feeling ugly, being ashamed of your personal appearance and imagining you have a deformity without one being present. While body image issues are a natural part of development at certain times, body dysmorphic disorder is a mental illness requiring treatment. Understanding the causes can help you know how to handle the situation if a friend or family member suffers from this disorder.

Biochemical and Genetic Causes
Neurotransmitters, like serotonin, are chemicals in the brain that naturally link to mood changes. When these chemicals are out of balance, they can cause an imbalance in thinking patterns, specifically emotions tied to body image. In the event of such an imbalance, a comment or incident may trigger body dysmorphic disorder.

If a person's parents or biological family members suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, it is possible that a genetic link will put that person at risk for developing it, too. If your family history includes this illness, you should be vigilant about being aware of body image issues and extreme behavior indicative of the symptoms of this disorder. The genetic piece of the puzzle is still unclear, although several studies support the theory that a genetic link exists.

Societal Causes
Media, peer and family pressure, negative experiences related to self image and cultural expectations can also be factors in one's risk of developing body dysmorphic disorder. Parents should be mindful of their own comments and attitudes regarding self image, the expectations they place on their children and the way their children relate to their peers. This is especially important during pubescent and teen years, when body changes increase self-conscious feelings, and hormone levels fluctuate and affect moods. Attentive and supportive parenting, along with realistic expectations for healthy eating and self care, can have positive impacts on the environment, reducing environmental risk factors.

Many people are unhappy with their appearance or have low self-esteem. However, if a person's self-image is drastically different from reality or the person affected refuses to leave the house due to physical appearance, that low self-esteem may actually be body dysmorphic disorder.

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