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Body Dysmorphia and The Neurodivergent Mind

I think differently, so how can this affect my body image?

Content warning: This article mentions topics of mental health and suicide which could be distressing to some readers

What is body dysmorphia?

“It’s commonly understood that autistic people have problems with abstraction (“big picture thinking”), and, especially when dealing with people, see things as parts instead of a whole. Body dysmorphic disorder is marked by a patient seeing their individual body parts instead of their body as a complete whole.”

It’s no secret that people like me, with Autism, ADHD and plenty of co-morbidities, think differently.

This causes multiple issues in my life whilst I struggle to fit into a neurotypical world.

Newly emerging research states one of these issues/comorbidities is body dysmorphia.

Given how differently I experience my physical environment, it’s no big surprise that, at times, my body can also feel like an alien environment.

Is your body an ok place to be? And are you even sure it is ‘you’ in there?

So, what's the difference between body insecurities and body dysmorphia?

Body Dysmorphia is a close relative of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety disorder and differs from typical body image insecurities, because of the severity of the symptoms it presents.

Some of these symptoms include, but are not limited to

Whilst body dysmorphia can be a debilitating and frightening condition, there are therapies and treatments out there that can help.

Let's explore some of these treatments

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)-For me, this was about changing the way I saw a situation, whilst we can't change the situation itself, we can change the way we think about it, in my case this was very helpful.

Mindfulness-This is where you become aware of your thoughts in any given moment, it can help prevent catastrophizing and reduce anxiety associated with overthinking about the future or past.

Medication-In some cases medication can help regulate thoughts and behaviours that in turn, can give the other non-medicated therapies a better chance of working.

None of these treatments/therapies are a quick fix, for what is an incredibly complex issue. However, given time and a lot of work, they can help you feel more in control of your own body, thoughts and identity.

For me personally, these therapies have allowed me to achieve some of my life goals and given me a better understanding of who I am and what I am capable of.

Overcoming any challenge in life is not easy, but, in my experience, the results are always worth the effort.

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