What Is the Difference Between Dysmorphia and Dysphoria?

a woman patient sits on a couch while she listens to her therapist explain the differences between dysmorphia vs dysphoriaDysmorphia and dysphoria are two terms that often get used interchangeably when discussing eating disorders. However, it’s essential to understand the distinction between these two terms to provide appropriate care for those affected. Misdiagnosis or confusion can hinder the delivery of effective treatment, potentially exacerbating a person’s emotional distress and mental health issues.

With help and support from Sanford Behavioral Health, individuals can learn to manage and overcome their eating disorders. We offer a range of evidence-based treatment options for our patients in the Michigan area. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our professionals at 616.202.3326 to get a better understanding of dysmorphia vs. dysphoria and how we can help provide you with care.

What Is the Difference Between Dysmorphia and Dysphoria?

Dysmorphia and dysphoria are both related to body image issues, but they refer to two distinct conditions. Here is a better understanding of each condition:


Dysmorphia, or body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), is a mental health condition that involves excessive concern over perceived flaws in one’s appearance. This condition can significantly affect an individual’s daily life and may lead to obsessive behaviors, seeking constant reassurance, and avoiding social situations. BDD often co-occurs with other mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. It can also be a contributing factor to the development of eating disorders.


Dysphoria, on the other hand, refers to a general feeling of dissatisfaction or discomfort with one’s body or gender identity. It is commonly associated with conditions such as gender dysphoria and body dysmorphic disorder but can also be a symptom of other mental health concerns. Dysphoria can cause significant distress and may lead to individuals engaging in harmful behaviors, such as extreme dieting or excessive exercise, to try and change their appearance.

Why Is It Important to Distinguish the Differences of Dysmorphia vs. Dysphoria?

Understanding the nuances between dysmorphia and dysphoria is critical for several reasons:

  • Accurate diagnosis – Each condition requires different therapeutic approaches. Misdiagnosis can lead to unsuitable treatment plans, hindering recovery progress.
  • Effective treatment – Therapies for dysmorphia may not work for dysphoria and vice versa. By accurately distinguishing between the two, mental health professionals can implement the most effective interventions.
  • Patient comfort – Patients need to feel understood. Correctly identifying their condition helps validate their experiences, fostering a more comfortable and trusting relationship with their healthcare provider.
  • Prevent misinformation – With so many complex terms in mental health, misinformation can easily spread. By distinguishing the differences, we can better educate the public and combat false information.

By understanding the specificities of dysmorphia vs. dysphoria, we can provide patient-centered care that addresses the unique needs and experiences of each individual.

Treatment Options for Dysmorphia vs. Dysphoria

At Sanford Behavioral Health, we offer evidence-based treatment options for both dysmorphia and dysphoria, including various therapy modalities, medication management, and support groups. Our experienced professionals work closely with each patient to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and goals. We also understand the importance of addressing underlying mental health concerns that may be contributing to dysmorphia or dysphoria, such as depression or anxiety.

In our care, patients may experience the following services of care options:

  • Trauma-informed care
  • A health-in-everybody approach
  • Psychiatrist-led medical team
  • On-staff dietitians
  • Meal support and clinical kitchen
  • Cooking and community excursions
  • Exposure therapy
  • Recreation therapy
  • Mindfulness, yoga, movement, and art therapy
  • Authentic staff, community, and connection
  • A full continuum of care for eating disorders, addiction, OCD, self-harm, depression, and co-occurring conditions

With our full continuum approach to care, we aim to help individuals achieve long-term recovery and improve their overall well-being.

Reach Out to Sanford Behavioral Health for Healing and Recovery

If you or a loved one is struggling with dysmorphia, dysphoria, or any other mental health concern, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Sanford Behavioral Health. Our compassionate and knowledgeable professionals are dedicated to helping individuals heal and recover from eating disorders and co-occurring conditions. Call us at 616.202.3326 or contact us online for more information on our services and how we can help. Remember, you are not alone—recovery is possible with proper support.

addiction, eating disorders, mental health treatment

Sanford Behavioral Health is an addiction, eating disorder, and mental health treatment facility serving Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan, and beyond. Our mission is to promote mental health, resilience, and well-being. Our goal is to provide practical and accessible substance use disorder, eating disorder, and mental health treatment to our patients. Sanford is led by a multi-disciplinary team offering integrative residential, outpatient and telehealth programs.