The term describes a mental illness that involves the belief that someone’s own appearance needs defective because it is unusually defective.
Well, we all have a few things we don’t like about our appearance. Sometimes it’s a nose that’s too big or an uneven smile. But as long as that won’t interfere with our daily lives it’s no problem.
It is called a body dysmorphic disorder (BDD for short) when it interferes with someone’s daily life when people can’t control negative feelings and thoughts about their flaws. And sometimes it causes those people a severe emotional distress which might interfere with their social life, school, work and affect their everyday functioning.
Many times people with body dysmorphic disorder will undergo plastic surgeries that are totally unnecessary to correct imagined or minor imperfections.
People with BDD might spend hours or even a whole day focusing on their imperfection. Despite being told the flaw is minor or inexistent they will continue to be obsessed with it. People affected by this mental problem might find it difficult to focus on anything but their imagined imperfections.
Most often the body dysmorphic disorder develops in teenagers or adolescents. According to studies and research both men and women are affected almost equally by this disorder.
People with body dysmorphic disorder are most likely to dislike their own skin, stomach, hair, chest or nose. But they can dislike anything in their own appearance. Recently, limb lengthening is a new and growing trend and most often surgeons performing this operation admit their patients have a mental issue.
The exact cause of it was not identified yet but scientists believe the factors involved in the development of this might include personality traits, genetic predisposition and life experiences.
The most common symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include avoidance of public situations and a repetitive behavior meant to help them hide their imaginary flaws. Sometimes the obsession is so distressing that people might even consider suicide.
Usually body dysmorphic disorder is diagnosed in people who are so obsessed with their own appearance that it affects their work, school or social life. In case of severe body dysmorphic disorder people might avoid to leave home altogether.
Also people with body dysmorphic disorder might think others are preoccupied with their flaws and notice them or have a negative opinion of their appearance based on their imaginary flaws. As a result of this they will end up excessive efforts to improve their flaws such as skin picking or hair plucking. They might also do major efforts to hide their imaginary flaws by wearing excessive make-up or growing a beard.
Reluctance to appear in pictures or avoiding mirror is pretty common in people with body dysmorphic disorder. But not all the people with body dysmorphic disorder avoid mirrors. Some of the actually examine themselves in mirrors frequently to make sure their flaws are well camouflaged.
Many times people with body dysmorphic disorder might avoid seeking specialized help because they might feel ashamed. But when a person’s preoccupation with personal appearance interferes with daily functioning they should seek specialized help of a mental health professional.
Treatment of body dysmorphic disorder includes cognitive-behavioural therapy and antidepressant medication.