Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a psychological disorder where a person is preoccupied with a real or imagined defect in their physical appearance. A person affected by BDD may be so concerned about a flaw in their appearance that they become depressed or socially isolate themselves out of shame. They may even contemplate suicide. If you constantly worry about a physical feature and how you can change it or cover it up, you may be suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
People with BDD generally don’t have other major issues with their self-image. They simply believe that this one flaw damages their entire appearance. Many times other people disagree with them and don’t think their fixation is all that problematic, if it exists at all. But the person affected by BDD can not be consoled; they are convinced that they are unbearably imperfect.
Men and women are affected by BDD in equal numbers. You may be more prone to BDD if a relative has it, and environmental pressures such as peers, parents, and media increase your focus on physical appearance. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is also highly associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Some symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder include:
- Constant thoughts about your perceived physical defect and your overall physical appearance — may be up to hours a day
- Belief that your flaw makes you unattractive
- Compulsive behaviors such as constant mirror-checking and touching of the flawed area
- Feelings of self-consciousness while in the presence of others
- Deep feelings of shame
- Obsessive thoughts of plastic surgery and/or having plastic surgery (perhaps more than once) to fix feature and remaining unsatisfied
- Refusing to take pictures
- Wearing excessive make-up or clothing to cover flaw
Those with BDD most commonly focus on their skin, hair, weight, or nose as. BDD tends to be under-diagnosed because it is confused with depression, social phobia, or low self-esteem. BDD sufferers who fixate on their weight may be thought to have an eating disorder.
One effective treatment for BDD is cognitive behavioral therapy, where a person learns the roots of their unhealthy thoughts and feelings. Once the BDD sufferer learns why they think the way they do, they can then work on moving to more productive patterns of thinking and behavior. But for you to overcome BDD you have to make the change yourself — no one else can make it for you.