By Angela Bekiaris
Kidshealth.org describes body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) as a ‘condition that involves obsessions [about one’s body], which are distressing thoughts that repeatedly intrude into a person’s awareness. With BDD, the distressing thoughts are about perceived appearance flaws’.
Common in teenagers, BDD has also been called ‘imagined ugliness’, as the appearance issues the person is obsessing about usually are so small that others don’t even notice them. Someone suffering from BDD might believe that he or she is too horribly ugly or disfigured to be seen – anything from a scarred face to a big noise or lips which are thinner than their friends’.
While experts are still unsure of what causes BDD, they believe it is related to problems with serotonin, one of the brain’s chemical neurotransmitters. Kidshealth.org explains that poor regulation of serotonin also plays a role in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and other anxiety disorders, as well as depression.
BDD usually begins in the teen years and, if not treated, can continue into adulthood. People with BDD feel ashamed and embarrassed and have a very low self-esteem. Medical professional add that those with BDD may feel misunderstood, unfairly judged, or alone – and avoiding contact with others may result in few or no friends.
BDD Signs To Look Out For
mayoclinic.org shares some of the most common signs of BDD:
♦ Being extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that to others can’t be seen or appears minor
♦ Strong belief that you have a defect in your appearance that makes you ugly or deformed
♦ Belief that others constantly pay attention to your appearance in a negative way or tease you
♦ Engaging in behaviours aimed at fixing or hiding the perceived flaw, such as frequently checking the mirror, grooming or skin picking
♦ Attempting to hide perceived flaws with styling, make-up or clothes
♦ Constantly comparing your appearance to others’
♦ Always seeking reassurance about your appearance from others
♦ Having perfectionist tendencies
♦ Seeking frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction
♦ Avoiding social situations
♦ Being so preoccupied with appearance that it causes major distress or problems in your social life, work, school or other areas of functioning
Besides obsessions, BDD also involves compulsions and avoidance behaviours. A compulsion is something a person does to try to relieve the tension caused by the obsessive thoughts. Avoidance behaviour is when a person might stay home or cover up to avoid being seen by others.