Body Dysmorphia

Intense insecurity about one’s appearance

 

When someone is preoccupied with their appearance and the flaws they perceive themselves to have, this can be identified as body dysmorphia. This is a mental disorder that affects an individual’s ability to see themselves in a positive light. People who suffer from body dysmorphia often take extreme measures to try to rectify what they believe are their flaws.

 

Body dysmorphia and eating disorders

 

Many people who suffer from eating disorders suffer simultaneously from body dysmorphia, as they are unable to see their size accurately and so imagine they are much larger than they are. It is difficult to say which issue comes first because a person’s level of self-critique can increase when they start trying to lose weight, as they have already identified the goal of changing their appearance. This is almost like highlighting one’s so-called imperfections in an attempt to modify them. Highlighting things that you would like to change can be done in a healthy way, like when people monitor their progress weekly, alongside healthy eating and a reasonable exercise regime. However, it can also happen with eating disorder sufferers, who have distorted views of themselves and harsher expectations too. Whereas a healthy person might see they have reached their goal weight and feel confident about their appearance, an eating disorder sufferer may not notice a sufficient difference, and may even believe they look larger. This is an example of body dysmorphia and how it can affect people.

 

Who else might be affected by body dysmorphia?

 

People who function ‘healthily’ in society, and who don’t appear to have any serious insecurities, can also suffer from body dysmorphia. For example, some people who wear a lot of makeup don’t do this because they enjoy it, but rather because they feel the need to hide certain parts of themselves. The intention is to boost their confidence, but also to alleviate the intense discomfort they feel at the prospect of others seeing their supposed imperfections. These can be things like dark circles under their eyes (bags), the size of their nose, the thickness of their eyebrows, the size of their lips – and the list really does go on. To the outside world, such ‘imperfections’ may not even be noticeable, but to the individual, these aspects of their appearance can be all-consuming and can make them feel unattractive and entirely ugly. The person suffering from this may feel isolated and unable to engage in usual social or professional arrangements that they used to actively enjoy.

 

Signs of body dysmorphia

 

If you feel you, or someone you know, may have body dysmorphia, here are some things to look out for:

 

  • A distinct and negative preoccupation with your own appearance.

 

  • A strong and unshakeable belief that there is something seriously wrong with how you look, even though others say they cannot see it.

 

  • A feeling that your loved ones are lying to you when they attempt to reassure you that there is nothing wrong with your appearance.

 

  • Repeatedly spending an excessive amount of time trying to change your appearance to make these flaws less noticeable.

 

  • A compulsion to repeatedly check your appearance, whether by reapplying the same makeup again and again, checking your appearance in the mirror overly often, or feeling the strong urge to pick your skin if it looks like something imperfect is on it (whether this is a blemish or simply makeup that doesn’t look quite right to you).

 

  • Feeling as though you cannot engage in the same social arrangements that you used to because of a fear of others’ judgement of your appearance.

 

  • Frequently finding yourself comparing your appearance to that of others and criticising yourself for not looking as good as you feel they do.

 

What to do if you feel you or someone you care about may have body dysmorphia

 

We all have imperfections, but ultimately if you feel like you, or someone you know, is focussing excessively on what they see as their flaws, it is important to make sure you/ they receive the support needed. This isn’t something the individual can simply snap out of, and sometimes, the more they are told to do this, the less they feel able to confide in others about these insecurities. This is why it can often be helpful to speak with a professional counsellor, as this can help the sufferer to see a different perspective with an entirely independent person. The counsellor works with the individual to identify where these beliefs come from, what they would like to be different, and how they can achieve this goal. This involves slow steps to try to alter certain behaviours and thinking processes.

 

In a safe and structured environment like therapy, the individual can build up a trusting relationship with the counsellor. One example of what might be worked on in therapy is a gradual decrease in rituals. With an individual who checks their appearance in the mirror 10 times before leaving the house, for example, the therapist and client can consider together how it might be for the individual to try to lower the number of times they check the mirror. Depending on how severe and ingrained their routine is, perhaps the person could decrease it by 1 time a day. If this worked well, they could then decrease it further, and if it didn’t work, they could go back and work together on why this was. This is just an example of one of the many ways that a person who suffers from body dysmorphia can be helped.

 

The most important thing, whether seeking professional or simply personal support (through friends and family), is that the person does not feel judged. Body dysmorphia is based on an intense fear of judgement, both from others and oneself. The best way for a person to learn how to lessen their own judgment of themselves is to see others not judging them. If you know anyone suffering from this disorder, it may be worth letting them know that you are willing to support them and listen to them, and possibly even help them to seek the professional help they need.

 

 

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Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazapam (vailium)


Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Nalmefene
  • Acamprosate (campral)

Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

*based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

Local treatment

Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

Treatment Away

Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0330 088 9518.

There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.