Body Dysmorphic Disorder Articles
People with BDD obsess over how they look and are preoccupied with body image to an unreasonable extent. They often look in mirrors and ask other people to reassure them that they are attractive many times. They engage in repetitive behaviors to make sure that they are covering what they perceive to be a flaw that makes them “ugly.”
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body Dysmorphic Disorder, commonly referred to as BDD, is a severe disorder that causes an individual to become extremely fixated on a perceived flaw (or multiple flaws) in their physical appearance. A person with BDD has a warped perception of how they appear. It is not the same as lacking confidence in physical appearance; we all feel unconfident in our physical presence at times and are all subject to being self-critical of our perceived flaws at times. For a person with BDD, however, these perceived flaws and deformities are so severe and alarming that it impairs the individual's ability to function in their daily life. It can be an extremely debilitating condition, especially if it is left untreated.
BDD is About More Than Your Body
In our society, it is hard to see our bodies as they are. Women and men alike are exposed to damaging body standards on a daily basis. Media exposure to a limited amount of body shapes and sizes is detrimental to someone with BDD. For example, only seeing women that are very thin or seeing women with visible abdominal muscles. This is unrealistic for most women, as for many people, a body fat percentage low enough to achieve either of these body types would cause a woman to disturb her menstrual cycle, physical and mental health, and potentially damage her bone density as a result) is detrimental for all of us. It’s not that these body types are “wrong” in any way, as some people are entirely healthy with these body types - it’s that we aren’t exposed to a wider variety of bodies, which can warp our self-perception. Beauty standards like these can be a contributing factor to the development of BDD. That said, despite the name, BDD doesn’t just focus on the body, and that's a common misconception about the condition. Many people with BDD fixate on perceived flaws on their face as well, such as their nose. A person with BDD may feel that their nose is so deformed that they cannot show their face to the rest of the world, which can limit their ability to leave the house and cause them to develop agoraphobia.
Connection to Eating Disorders
It is very common for eating disorders to coincide with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Eating disorders do not discriminate; people of all genders, all races, all ages, all income levels, all body sizes, and so on, can develop a severe and life-threatening eating disorder. Over 30 million people in the United States alone are suffering from an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not limited to Anorexia and Bulimia; other eating disorders include BED, OSFED, and so on. Excessive exercise can be a sign - or even the main symptom - of several eating disorders, and it tends to go unnoticed or even get praised in our society, despite the damage that it can cause to a person’s body. BDD paired with an eating disorder contributes to a very detrimental cycle, as malnutrition itself can create self-perception to become even more inaccurate. Both conditions can cause a person to “body check” by looking in the mirror excessively throughout the day. Rituals and behaviors like this can become highly intrusive. Comorbid conditions aside from eating disorders are frequently diagnosed in individuals with BDD as well. These conditions can include but are not limited to anxiety disorders and depression or other mood disorders. Whether you are suffering from BDD on its own or a comorbid disorder as well, you don’t have to go through this alone.
Mental health treatment for BDD is becoming increasingly available and shows success in treating the condition. Online therapy is convenient. It allows you to meet with your therapist in the privacy of your own home, or wherever you prefer that gives you access to a reliable internet connection. It can be especially helpful for those with BDD who have become so impaired by the condition that they find it hard to leave their homes. There’s something intimate about online therapy; it allows you to feel safe. If you suspect that you suffer from BDD, body image disturbances, an eating disorder, or any other mental health condition, there is a database of mental health professionals on BetterHelp that are equipped to help you manage these conditions and develop coping skills. Over time, you will be able to see yourself more accurately and live your life to your fullest potential.