BDD is a mental health condition that causes an individual to spend excessive amounts of time worrying about flaws in their appearance.
These flaws are often unnoticeable to others and seem insignificant.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) affects up to 10 million people (of any gender) each year in America, it’s something way too common and not discussed enough.
It tends to begin during the teen years or early adulthood-which is the age when individuals start comparing themselves to others. Body dysmorphic disorder is a chronic (long-term) condition if not treated.
Signs of BDD:
-Preoccupation with one or more defects or flaws in physical appearance that cannot be seen by others, or that appear slight to others
-Engaging in repetitive and time-consuming behaviors, such as looking in a mirror (body/face checking), picking at the skin (squeezing, creating scars, etc), and trying to hide or cover up the defect
-Constantly asking for others' reassurance on appearance
-Having problems at work or school or in relationships because the person cannot stop focusing on the defect.
-spending excessive time comparing yourself to others and feeling like you don't measure up.
-Feeling self-conscious and not wanting to go out in public, or feeling anxious when around other people because you're thinking they are staring at your perceived "flaw".
-Repeatedly consulting with medical specialists, such as plastic surgeons or dermatologists, to find ways to improve his/hers appearance.
Being excessively focused on one or more features of your body can have a very serious impact on your life. This reduces yourself to your individual features, to your flaws, without realizing that others see you as a WHOLE. This can lead to staking all your feelings of self-worth on individual physical features which:
This not only leads to many wasted hours, obsessively thinking about your flaws instead of dedicating that time to more productive thinking, but it can also lead you to more extreme action: over-exercising, dieting, surgeries, avoiding social situations, ETC.
Disclaimer: I am not saying that you should diagnose yourself or anyone else with BPD or any other mental health disorder. BPD is something that should not be treated lightly, and those who do struggle with such issues, please know how important it is to reach out to those around you for support, and if needed, to seek out help from a mental health professional.
*Also, if you're reading this, please check out this LINK which lists 10 Faulty Thoughts That Occur in Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
What causes BDD?
-Childhood trauma (being bullied/picked on, feeling unseen/unheard, etc)
-Low self esteem.
-Parents who were critical of physical appearance and made comments about the you about the way you look.
-Pressure from peers/society/media's beauty standards.
Being more common than anorexia nervosa, it’s important to understand the implications of BDD and more importantly, to know how to reduce any obsessive thoughts about your body.
My straight forward + effective tips on how to deal with obsessive thoughts about your body:
-Train your mind to think positive thoughts about those around you - look for the good in others’ appearances. It works :) What you focus on, you attract (I always say) so if you're constantly picking on others' apperance, you will be picking on yours as well.
-Think about life without obessing, how free you’d feel-and know that could be you.
-Make a mental note (if you write it down even better!) about what you bring to the table apart from what you look like.
-Take SELF CARE days/afternoons/hours. Treat your body with love and kindness and this WILL lead to more kind loving thoughts about your body. Don't wait to feel good to go on a walk, it is the walk that will make you feel good.
-Find HOBBIES that have nothing to do with calories, exercise, or food can be a great way to stay distracted. A hobby will help you find appreciation for the other parts of life, and accentuate strengths you may not have known you had. In turn, this can be a huge confidence booster, and give you the motivation you need to escape that negative feedback loop