What Are Body Dysmorphia Symptoms?

At Sundance Canyon Academy, we hear from a lot of families who are worried about their son’s body image. Body Dysmorphia in teen boys is more common than many people think, and it can cause health problems during the teen years. We are writing on this topic today to help parents learn to identify body dysmorphia symptoms in teens. For more information, contact us today.

Body Dysmorphia is a relatively common mental health problem that can cause serious problems for teens affected by the disorder. People who suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) tend to focus on bodily flaws to an unhealthy degree. Their thoughts are consumed with negative views of their body, and their actions can lead to unhealthy consequences.

During high school, most teens wish they could change something about their bodies. They might wish they were taller or stronger or more attractive. They might even act on those desires. Maybe they start working out more, wearing different clothes, or start paying more attention to their personal hygiene. For most teens, though, their desire to look different doesn’t consume their life.

For teens with BDD, their appearance means everything. Some people with BDD obsess over their entire appearance, but most people focus on just a few specific body parts. In their mind, those body parts are flawed, and they must work to fix them. This obsession can lead to physical problems as well as psychological problems in teens.

Symptoms of body dysmorphia

The symptoms of Body Dysmorphia can be very similar for teenage boys and girls, but they might express the symptoms in slightly different ways. In both cases, teens with BDD tend to focus on specific body parts.

The most common areas of focus for BDD are:

  1. The face: nose, eyes, lips, teeth, complexion

  2. Hair: the amount of hair, style, texture, color

  3. Skin: skin tone, freckles, veins

  4. Chest: breast size, toned pectoral muscles

  5. Abdomen: body fat, stretch marks, muscle tone

  6. Muscle tone: defined muscles, bulky muscles

  7. Genitals: size, appearance

Teens with BDD are likely to focus on one or more of these primary areas. Again, all teens are likely to focus on their appearance to a certain degree. Teens with BDD focus on their appearance in a way that interferes with their everyday life and negatively affects their mental health.

Some common Body Dysmorphia symptoms include:

  1. Avoiding or leaving social situations because they feel like everyone else notices a flaw that they perceive in their body.

  2. Looking at themself in the mirror more than average.

  3. Trying to avoid seeing their reflection.

  4. Covering up their body more than average for the temperature or occasion. For example, this could include wearing a hoodie to the beach or wearing a hat to a formal dinner.

  5. Exercising an excessive amount.

  6. Dieting when they don’t need to lose weight.

  7. Constantly asking for other people’s opinions on their appearance.

  8. Disregarding compliments on their appearance.

  9. Getting, or regularly asking for, cosmetic surgery.

  10. Thinking that people notice them more than they do.

Does body dysmorphia affect teen boys?

Yes, Body Dysmorphia affects teen boys similarly to teen girls. However, teen boys might present their symptoms a bit differently than girls. Teen boys with BDD are often focused on their appearance related to perceived masculinity. So they may focus more on height, weight, muscle size, muscle definition, facial hair, and so on.

Teen boys with BDD can also have accompanying mental health struggles. Many teens with BDD may also have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (ODD), anxiety, or depression. They feel like something is wrong with them, and they constantly work to fix it. Even when there’s nothing wrong with their appearance, they can feel flawed.

Because teens with BDD can feel like something is wrong even when they are perfectly healthy, they can engage in dangerous behavior. For example, teen boys who think their muscles need to be bigger might alter their diet too much, work out too much, or take performance-enhancing drugs. Body Dysmorphia in teens can lead to chronically damaging behavior.

If your teen son is exhibiting Body Dysmorphia symptoms, he may need professional help. The root of BDD is a belief that something is wrong with the physical body and that it must be changed at all costs. Teen boys with BDD need to learn to accept their bodies and treat their bodies in a healthy, respectful way.

Teens with severe BDD can benefit from attending a residential treatment center to get the care they need to live a healthy lifestyle. By participating in therapy sessions and positive extracurricular activities, students can learn to appreciate their bodies rather than criticize them.

Call us at 866-640-1899 for more information about our school for teenage boys.

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