Friday, February 17, 2017

Signs That You May Have Body Dysmorphic Disorder

An animated woman standing in front of a mirror. Her reflection shows a much larger "fatter" version of herself.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Today, I want talk about Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

BDD is a serious mental health condition that affects 1.7% to 2.4% of the population, or about 1 in 50 people. While many people associate the disorder with low self-esteem or insecurities related to one’s appearance, it’s actually a lot more serious than that. Allow me to explain.

While everyone has physical insecurities, most of us don’t allow that to interfere with our daily lives. For example, while we may find that our nose is a little crooked, we still go to work every morning, still pick up the kids from school, still attend social events, and still go shopping. That’s not the case for people with BDD.

In fact, one of the signs of BDD is frequently skipping school, work, social events, or other daily activities due to issues related to one’s appearance. In other words, BDD actually hinders a person’s ability to complete day-to-day responsibilities.

But that’s not the only sign. Due to obsessing over one’s perceived flaws, people with BDD often suffer from anxiety and/or depression. It’s not uncommon for the mental and emotional stress to become so overwhelming to where the affected person begins to contemplate suicide.

Other signs may include compulsively checking mirrors, or completely avoiding mirrors all together. People with BDD also tend to excessively groom themselves. And finally, those with BDD may take a keen interest in cosmetic surgery.

Treatment options for the disorder include cognitive behavioral therapy and anti-depressant medications. For those who aren’t able to afford these options, there are several informative and helpful books written on the subject matter. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends the following publications:
  • Feeling Good About the Way You Look: A Program for Overcoming Body Dysmorphic Disorder, by Sabine Wilhelm, PhD (Guilford Press, 2006)
  • The Broken Mirror: Understanding and Treating Body Dysmorphic Disorder, by Katharine Phillips, MD (Oxford University Press, 2005)
  • Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder, by Katharine Phillips, MD (Oxford University Press, 2009) 
As always, I offer myself up as a resource if anyone needs someone to talk to. You can reach out to me via the comments below or on Twitter @SunshineNDaisy. Thanks for reading!