Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD is a real illness and affects people of both genders and of various ages. This is so much more intense, painful, and life consuming than body image issues.
BDD differs from having body image issues or dissatisfaction with your body, because you end up having a preoccupation with a part of your body (skin, hair, nose, breasts, legs, penis…The list goes on and on) that typically is unrecognizable to others, or something that is so small that others would never comment on it. However you feel that people are always looking at or judging you on your imperfections.
The area of the body that you consider to be flawed or imperfect typically causes a great deal of anxiety and stress for you. There are times when you may feel sad or depressed, get down on yourself, feel hopeless, frustrated. angry or even guilty for being so concerned with your appearance. For you this is not about vanity, it’s about trying to conceal a part of you that you are unhappy with and feel that others will be critical or mean about.
You may find that the majority of your day is consumed by trying to cover up, camouflage or try to change your appearance so that the area you have a problem with is not being exposed. You could spend hours and hours just to get ready before you leave your home because you feel like you have to do things done a certain way before you leave and you probably find that they rest of your day is focused upon your flaw.
Maybe you can relate to this example:
▪ If you believe like your skin is full of blemishes and your face looks red; you may feel shame and spend much time washing your face, applying certain creams, then makeup to hide the blemishes; you may have to style your hair a certain way so that your it takes away from the imperfections on your face. You may believe that covering up may distract someone from looking at the “blemishes.”
Here is a list of some of the things you may do if you have BDD:
▪ Frequently checking on the area of your body that you are unhappy with
▪ Frequent or excessive grooming; tweezing, waxing, styling hair, washing, pick at pimples etc
▪ Comparing yourself to others; specifically the part of the body (or areas of the body) that you are most unhappy with
▪ Frequently changing or adjusting clothing
▪ Constant mirror gazing or avoidance (some people may even look in the mirror constantly then go through periods that they want to avoid looking in the mirror)
▪ Trying to camouflage the area of body that you are unhappy with (using makeup, clothing etc)
▪ Avoid social gatherings; being with friends, family, dating
▪ Having trouble at work; maybe you work in a job that is below what you are actually capable of because you don’t believe that you are good enough to do something else; or afraid you will fail
▪ You are often distracted while working, because you are worried about other people seeing your flaw(s)
▪ You frequently miss school or drop out because it is too difficult to be around other people
▪ You frequently or excessive diet; or are constantly trying different diets
▪ You exercise excessively
▪ You have had or are consider plastic surgery to fix the area of the body you are unhappy with
▪ You may think about suicide
Typically if you have BDD, you will hear people commenting on how you look, and they will usually say something positive. But you will just shrug it off because you will think that they are just saying something to be nice, or that it is what people do even if they don’t mean it.
Most people who do have BDD are very attractive but have trouble seeing themselves for what others see them. There is something in the way that you perceive things that makes you focus primarily on your flaw rather than the whole picture. When someone sees you they are not going to zoom in on the spot that you feel most vulnerable. Because that is something that you tend to focus on you feel that others will automatically also focus their attention on that area
▪ Keep a log of your daily routine; chart for about a week to see how much time you spend on grooming, checking and trying to hide your imperfection
▪ Chart the emotions that you feel when you think about the area of the body that you are unhappy with, record when you feel more sad, anxious, stressed etc
▪ Ask someone that you are very comfortable with if they also recognize the problem that you see, sometimes talking it out with another will help to relieve some of the anxiety you feel
▪ Try to focus on a part of your body/appearance that you are happy with rather than the part that you are unhappy with
Sometimes you need more help than going to a friend or family member. You might need the help of a mental health professional to guide you through this tough time. Having BDD is associated with a lot of other emotions and usually there are other reasons why you might be so focused on an area that you are unhappy with. There are different methods of therapy, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or EMDR that has been found to be very useful for people like you who are suffering from this. Remember that only a mental health professional can make a true diagnosis of BDD. If you feel that you might be one those individuals contact a mental health professional like myself.
Contact mark by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: (516) 731-7611