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Identifying Body Dysmorphic Disorder

by Ashley Kwok and Revathi Raghavan

Many of us face insecurities, but people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder have intrusive, repetitive thoughts about a perceived flaw or their appearance. This slight is oftentimes minute or unnoticeable to others, but in the mind of someone who has Body Dysmorphic Disorder, this flaw often prevents them from having complete autonomy over their life.

For example, they will spend an hour or more worrying over their appearance. They may ask their loved ones or friends about their perceived flaws, only to be met with confusion. They might avoid mirrors and taking pictures or alternatively, engage in obsessive mirror-checking and self-grooming. Altogether, this perceived flaw of their appearance gives them significant distress in their day-to-day life.

So what is it like to have BDD?

Correctly diagnosing yourself or someone around you with BDD may be hard, but there are certain symptoms that resonate with many people affected by the disorder.

Such symptoms include social anxiety and increased amounts of trying to "hide their flaws." More than 90% of cases coexist with depression, anxiety, and other psychological ailments. It's important in such circumstances to seek professional help, wherein the condition can be treated with a combination of medicine and psychological counseling sessions. However, there is a difference between being unsatisfied with certain parts of your appearance and having BDD.

How can you distinguish between being unhappy with some part of your appearance and having BDD?

  • Many people remain perpetually sad with some part of the manner in which they look. If the quantity of your time and energy is spent brooding about every aspect of your body or face and this further interferes with day-to-day functioning or causes immense emotional distress, then you might be diagnosed with BDD.

  • If you're preoccupied solely with thinking that you’re “too fat,” or that elements of your body (such as your abdomen or thighs) are seen as “too fat,” it's necessary to work out whether or not.

  • Associate in Nursing upset may be an additional fitting designation than BDD.

  • Although it needn’t be limited to weight, a large part of BDD deals with an increasing preoccupation with any “flaw” in the overall appearance and instead refers to a negative body image as a whole. BDD can also include an excessive focus on body hair, pimples, stretch marks, etc. The scariest thing about BDD is that most of the time, it is not limited to just one flat and instead points towards extreme insecurity about ourselves and the way we look.

Here is a list of triggers and warning signs that you may be suffering from BDD:

  • Triggers:

- Low self-esteem

- Critical parents/friends/significant others

- Early childhood trauma

- Social media and pop culture

- Changes in neurochemistry

  • Warning Signs:

- Obsession with checking oneself in the mirror

- Trying to cover up a perceived defect with makeup/clothes

- Feeling self-conscious/anxious around other people

- Repeatedly consulting medical professionals to improve the appearance

Body Dysmorphic disorder is a serious disorder that must be dealt with immediately and delicately. It is important to identify symptoms of it at an early stage and come to terms with it first. If you or your loved ones suffer from this disorder, it is important to prioritize your mental and physical health over your preoccupations, try to seek assistance, or simply have a conversation with a trusted individual.


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