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Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a serious mental illness?

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It is extremely normal for us to look in the mirror at ourselves sometimes and feel unattractive or just down right crummy. However, if this type of feeling persists on a regular basis then it may be more than just a bad day. Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a serious mental illness in which a person cannot stop thinking about how ugly or flawed they are in appearance. Generally, the flaws that a person suffering from this mental illness sees, either do not exist or are exaggerated. They do not accept compliments and obsess over their looks for hours at a time. This condition has such a powerful effect on a person's self-esteem that it may cause them to lose touch with reality by locking themselves away because they feel too ugly to socialize in the public eye. The thoughts that are running through their mind can create severe anxiety and depression. In fact, many sufferers are often classified as having obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, depression or an eating disorder. It becomes BDD if a person's thinking begins to constantly interfere with their daily lives. 

Also, many sufferers are constantly buying cosmetic items to "fix" what is flawed on the outside. Some will continuously go through plastic surgery. Most of the time after the person buys something new or gets plastic surgery, they show signs of improvement almost instantaneously. Sadly, this happiness is short lived because the problem is NOT what an individual suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder looks like on the outside, but their mental health that needs to be fixed. This illness affects both men and women equally, particularly developing during the adolescent years. The most common symptoms of BDD include the following (FROM ADAA):

  • Camouflaging (with body position, clothing, make-up, hair hats, etc.)
  • Comparing body parts to other's appearance
  • Seeking surgery
  • Checking in a mirror    
  • Avoiding mirrors
  • Skin Picking
  • Excessive grooming
  • Excessive exercise
  • Changing clothes excessively



These symptoms can easily be attributed to a person being conceited, when actually it is the complete opposite. This is why judgment should not be made on other individuals. The causes of this mental illness are not known. Scientists speculate that it could be a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics or environmental. If you or a loved one are exhibiting the behaviors mentioned above, then it is best to seek a mental health evaluation immediately. An individual must be extremely open with their health provider and let them know exactly what they think about and how it is affecting their lives. Without complete honesty with yourself or your doctor, it can become impossible to treat. Treatments for victims of BDD may include cognitive therapy, anti-depressants or both. Below are some brief tests that you can take to determine if BDD may be present in your life. However, these are just surveys and should not be used as a form to officially diagnose your condition:





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