Body Dysmorphic Disorder is an obsessive Mental Illness. Do you know someone that seems to be continuously obsessed with what they consider to be an imperfection or flaw in their appearance but it's really only obvious to them, no one else?
Even though their perceived imperfection is so slight or imagined they become consumed with either:
- Trying to cover it up with cosmetics, hats, clothes, or hair for example
- They have unnecessary cosmetic surgery (sometimes multiple surgeries without being satisfied)
- They continuously look in the mirror or completely avoid mirrors altogether
- They're always touching or picking at their skin
- Constantly changing their clothes
- Constantly grooming themselves
- Excessive hair plucking
- Exercising excessively
- Needing to be reassured constantly that the flawed area isn't too noticeable
- Totally avoid having their picture taken
- They avoid social situations
Perceived flaws can be a skin imperfection like scars or wrinkles, shape or size of the nose, lips, eyes or other body parts, they may consider their hair to be too thin, the shape of their body is imperfect or flawed, muscle tone is a problem or even their weight is an issue? Most of us are critical about our looks but we don't uncontrollably obsess continuously about minor imperfections that others probably don't even notice.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a condition that's often severe in which an individual intensely obsesses over what they consider to be a flaw or flaws in their physical appearance to the point that they see themselves as ugly and even sometimes fat. People with BDD are so consumed with constant upsetting and extreme thoughts concerning the physical feature they consider being imperfect, that it affects their entire life. They're unable to control their negative thoughts about themselves and always feel others notice their physical flaws too, so they tend to isolate themselves as much as they can.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder in Teens and Young Adults
Body dysmorphia usually develops when a person is in their teens or in their young adulthood and is a type of mental illness that affects both women and men and is sometimes referred to as 'imagined ugliness'. There is no known cause for Body Dysmorphic Disorder however some professionals feel serotonin may have something to do with the illness.
Sadly some people become so obsessed with their distorted view of themselves that they become reclusive and don't go out in public because they feel ugly. Teens and young adults can suffer academically because their consumed with their body image and can't focus on their studies while in school. They don't want to bring attention to themselves so they shy away from teachers, classmates and socializing. BDD affects a person's self-esteem and can affect their careers, relationships and even lead to eating problems if the obsession has to do with body shape or weight.
Some people suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder continuously seek medical help from skin specialists or have repeated cosmetic surgeries done trying to perfect their perceived imperfection but they're rarely satisfied. Not only do most people with body dysmorphia stay consumed with their minor or imagined flaws they feel distraught, worried and embarrassed about it most of the time. It's also not uncommon for some people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder to also suffer from anxiety or major depression.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Substance Abuse
Unfortunately because most people suffering from BDD are so uncomfortable and ashamed of their appearance they aren't usually going to open up with their physician so they go undiagnosed and don't receive help. Young people as well as adults sometimes turn to alcohol or drugs due to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem which often occurs with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder
There is effective treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder but the mental health condition has to be properly diagnosed first by a qualified mental health professional. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that focuses on changing negative thinking and behavior patterns and can be a very effective for treating Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Treating BDD is a slow process and the individual needs as much positive support as they can receive so family therapy is also very beneficial during this time. Because depression and anxiety often occur with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, certain antidepressants may also be helpful during treatment.