Symptoms: Friends of the Fear
Every case of dysmorphophobia is a little different.
Why? Because the core of the problem – the patterns of thinking, the images, movies, sounds and dialog that are internally associated with deformity – are different in each person.
But while the 'internal representations' as they are called are different from person to person there are a number of symptoms which are common to many dysmorphophobes:
- A feeling of uncontrollable anxiety when you think about or are exposed to deformity
- The feeling that you must do everything possible to avoid deformity
- The inability to function normally because of your anxiety
- Often, the knowledge that your fears are unreasonable or exaggerated but feeling powerless to control them
Dysmorphophobic symptoms can be mental, emotional and physical. The anxiety and fear can go from mild feelings of apprehension to a full-blown panic attack.
Typically, the closer you are to what you’re afraid of, the greater your fear will be. You can test the severity of your problem with this 2-minute online dysmorphophobia test.
But because the fear is a physical response to patterns of thinking about deformity and not the actual deformity almost all people with dysmorphophobia can create a very strong reaction just by using their mind.
> For help chaging these patterns of thinking, read this article How to Overcome Dysmorphophobia.
- Obsessive Thoughts
- Difficulty thinking about anything other than the fear
- Really bad images and/or movies of deformity
- Feelings of unreality or of being detached from yourself
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Fear of fainting
- Anticipatory Anxiety: Persistent worrying about upcoming events that involve deformity
- Terror: A persistent and overwhelming fear of the same
- Desire to Flee: An intense instinct to leave the situation (which is tough when its purely in the mind)
While not generally experienced at the same time as dysmorphophobia episode, we find that overall when they think about their past, most clients have elevated levels of one or more of:
- Anger, Sadness, Fear, Hurt & Guilt
- Dizziness, shaking, palpitations.
- Shortness of breath or smothering sensation
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Trembling or shaking
- Feeling of choking
- Nausea or stomach distress
- Feeling unsteady, dizzy, lightheaded, or faint
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Hot or cold flashes
Or learn more about Dysmorphophobia: