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Sometimes, it seems like everyone is obsessed with their looks. Every day, I see someone post a picture on social media using a filter that changes the way they look. That led me to think about body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).
I looked over my pictures and noticed that I often change my pictures using filters that alter them to minimize what I see as my flaws. That made me wonder, do I have body dysmorphia? I wanted to learn more about this condition.
What I discovered was that BDD goes beyond just feeling insecure or using filters on your pictures. It is an obsessive dislike of a part of your body or certain feature you have to the point where you obsess over it. It is a mental health disorder that requires treatment from a doctor.
Everyone has something they don’t like about themselves or that they wish they could change. That is human nature. However, when you think about that flaw all the time and it starts impacting your life, it becomes an issue.
If you find yourself asking, do I have body dysmorphia, then you should seek the help of a healthcare professional.
It may help to learn a bit more about BDD. Getting to understand the symptoms and signs is a good first step. You can then discover more about how BDD could affect your quality of life and really understand this disorder. Do note the following information is provided for education and is not medical advice.
What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
Everyone seems to have the occasional day where they aren’t quite happy with what they see in the mirror. They may feel a bit insecure about a flaw they feel they have or wish they could change the way they look. These are all normal thoughts and feelings, but when they start taking over your everyday thoughts, you could have body dysmorphic disorder.
The disorder is also sometimes referred to as imagined ugliness or dysmorphophobia. It involves becoming so obsessive over a perceived flaw that you cannot go about your day without it taking over your thoughts.
This disorder is commonly misunderstood or confused with other disorders (specifically obsessive-compulsive disorder) because it shares some symptoms with other disorders.
What Signs Should I Look For?
If you wonder, do I have body dysmorphia, you want to watch for certain behaviors. You may feel like you have a flaw with your appearance, but people around you may say it isn’t noticeable or they don’t know what you are talking about. What you see in the mirror may not be the reality.
You may find yourself constantly looking in the mirror. On the flip side, you may start to avoid mirrors because seeing yourself upsets you.
You may have low self-esteem. Others may try to build you up and tell you that you have nothing to be ashamed or worried about, but you only think they are humoring you and saying what they think you want to hear.
You may worry so much about your appearance that it takes over your life. Your social relationships may suffer, and you may start to think negative thoughts about yourself.
Specific signs to watch out for include:
- Picking at the skin
- Excessive grooming habits
- Wearing excessive makeup or clothing
- Refusing to have your picture taken
- Avoiding social situations
- Working out excessively
- Obsessing over your diet
If you notice these symptoms, it is a good indicator that you could have BDD.
How Can I Know It Is BDD?
It can be confusing to know if what is going on with you is BDD. As mentioned, there are other mental health conditions that are similar. In addition, BDD can lead to other mental health issues. These issues include anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anorexia.
Typically, though, the main signal that a problem is BDD is the obsession with a part of the body or certain feature. You can obsess over any body part or feature. It can even include obsessing over muscles and how they look, such as thinking they look puny even when they do not.
BDD is about more than being vain. It is a mental health condition that affects about two percent of the population. This disorder can affect both men and women, and it typically begins around ages 16 to 18.
How Can BDD Affect My Life?
BDD can affect your life in many negative ways. It can lead to destructive behaviors, such as taking drugs or undergoing repeated cosmetic procedures.
You may also withdraw from your social circle and family. You may start exhibiting reclusive behavior and refuse to leave your home.
BDD can lead to or aggravate existing mental health conditions, including depression, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and severe personality disorder.
The effects of BDD are far-reaching. It can reduce your quality of life and cut you off from your friends and family. It can make it difficult to hold down a job as well. Depending on your situation, it can even be deadly.
What Causes BDD?
There is no known cause for BDD. The best analysis is it is caused by an issue with the neurotransmitters in the brain. It may be genetic or caused by social pressure.
You have an increased risk of developing this disorder if any of the following is true:
- Having a family history
- Being a victim of bullying
- Being a victim of abuse
- Having low self-esteem
- Caving easily to social pressures or being overly obsessed with
What Can I Do If I Have BDD?
If you answer the question do I have body dysmorphia with a yes or even think the answer is yes, you should seek immediate medical attention. This is a serious disorder and you need proper help to treat it.
To begin with, you should go see your general practitioner and explain your concerns. He or she will do a physical exam to ensure you don’t have any underlying medical concerns. Then, your doctor will likely refer you to a mental health specialist.
How Is BDD Treated?
Again, if you feel the answer to the question do I have body dysmorphia is yes, you need to see a mental health professional. Your doctor will do an assessment that looks over your medical and family history, do a psychological evaluation, and discuss your symptoms with you.
If the doctor diagnoses you with BDD, you will get treatment that includes cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is aimed at helping you change your thought patterns and behaviors. You will work on finding coping methods as well. The treatment is personalized to your needs and your specific case.
The medications that are used to treat BDD are typically antidepressants. A common option is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which help target the neurotransmitters in the brain.
In the event that you have a severe case of BDD and the doctor feels you are a threat to yourself or that it is inhibiting you from being able to successfully take care of yourself, he or she may put you in a hospital for intensive therapy and treatment.
Is There Anything Else I Can Do to Treat BDD?
Once in treatment, you need to follow all the doctor’s orders and recommendations. You should learn as much as you can about BDD, too.
Knowing all about it can make it easier for you to find success with treatment. You can even read books about other people’s struggles with BDD, such as Shattered Image by Brian Cuban.
You may also find a support group. Try working on your overall health through a good diet and exercise. Also, stay away from drugs and alcohol, which can lead you back down the wrong path and reverse the successes you’ve had with treatment.
There is a low level of awareness about BDD, which is mainly due to the stigma about it. Many people feel it is just someone being vain and not a real mental health condition. Because of this, many people take 10 to 15 years to go to that first doctor’s appointment to get treated for the disorder.
But you should seek treatment as soon as possible. It is the only way to get better and to stop letting BDD control your life. If you answer yes to the question do I have body dysmorphia, your only solution is treatment by a mental health professional. Do not try to do it on your own.
Do I Have Body Dysmorphia?
So, do I have body dysmorphia? It may be difficult for you to admit or accept that you may have BDD. This disorder is not an easy condition to diagnose or have. It can affect every aspect of your life until it simply ruins you.
You don’t have to feel like this. You don’t have to live this way. There is help available.
If you notice that you obsess over a flaw in your appearance and that it is becoming something that interferes with your day to day existence and you say yes to the question do I have body dysmorphia, then seek the care of a medical professional. Do not allow stigmas or fear hold you back.
Body dysmorphic disorder is highly treatable. It will take work, though. You do have to commit to treatment because you are working on your mental health. It isn’t like a physical injury or illness where a doctor can fix everything for you.
But you can do it! BDD does not have to define you. You can learn to love yourself again and move on with a healthy and happy life. Do you have any words of wisdom regarding BDD? Share your thoughts in the comments.