Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Signs, Triggers and Remedies

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In today’s world, everyone wants to look good. People are ready to spend a fortune to enhance their looks and do everything possible to defy ageing. Though this obsession sounds like a normal thing these days, one should know that there is a mental disorder named Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), which makes a person think he/ she is ugly and prompts them to take drastic steps to look good. Though a person with BDD does not show symptoms of any mental illness, the signs are very evident - they start seeing themselves as ‘ugly’, avoid social gatherings and resort to cosmetic surgeries to look attractive.

How does BDD begin?
BDD affects men and women equally. It usually begins during the teen years or early adulthood. The most common concerns of a BDD patient are his/her skin imperfections, hair, facial features, body weight, body shape and even body odour.

What are the signs of Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

  • Recurring and distressing thoughts, fear/ seeing images (hallucinations) that they cannot control
  • Feeling anxious when around people
  • Performing certain rituals or routines (compulsions) such as looking in a mirror, picking at the skin, and trying to hide or cover up the perceived defect
  • Constantly looking for reassurance that the defect is not visible or too obvious
  • Affects life at work, or in relationships due to the inability to stop obsessing about the perceived defect

What triggers Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

  • Traumatic events or an emotional conflict during childhood
  • Parents and peers who were critical of a person’s appearance
  • Low self-esteem

People with BDD need medical and social support. A person with BDD should be shown the “real picture” and taught to respect himself/ herself for what he/she is. A Psychiatrist can help manage the problem medically, which otherwise can worsen to an extent that the patient loses self confidence, completely.