What is body dysmorphic disorder, what causes it and how is it treated?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), according to the dictionary definition is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to have a distorted view of how they look and to spend a lot of time worrying about their appearance.

For example, they may be convinced that a barely visible scar is a major flaw that everyone is staring at, or that their nose looks abnormal. It means being extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that to others can’t be seen or appears minor. 


Believing that you have a defect that makes you ugly or deformed...

A belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way or mock you. Engaging in behaviours aimed at fixing or hiding the perceived flaw that are difficult to resist or control, such as frequently checking the mirror, grooming or skin picking, attempting to hide perceived flaws with styling, makeup or clothes. 

Constantly comparing your appearance with others, always seeking reassurance about your appearance from others, having perfectionist tendencies, seeking frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction. You could be avoiding social situations and being so preoccupied with your appearance that it causes major distress or problems in your social life, work, school or other areas of functioning.

You may obsess over one or more parts of your body. The feature that you focus on may change over time.

The most common features people obsess about include: face, including nose, complexion, wrinkles, acne and other blemishes, hair thinning and baldness. 

You may be overly concerned about your skin and vein appearance. Females often obsess about their breast size, too small or even too big. Males might obsess about size of their muscles and tone and of course their penis size.

All the above and of course, too tall, not short, too thin, too fat. The old joke ‘does my bum look big in this’ to some is really no joke at all.

Why do you think there has been such an increase in clinics specialising in botox, fillers, nose reduction, breast enlargement, penis whatevers over the past decade. It’s no longer the preserve of the rich and famous to get a face lift or a nose job.

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And as for the diet industry -here’s news for you – diets make you fat!

It’s a fact gym membership increases in January and usually by February everybody’s paying their dues but very few are actually going!

So it’s just more money wasted. And the gyms and slimming foods (there’s a misnomer if ever there was one) are raking it in.

Eat proper food – be healthy. Stop drinking the sugary drinks, you can clean the toilet with diet colas – that’s a fact. Eat fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, chicken, fish. Much better for you than all those E numbers and processed foods.

So where does body dysmorphia stem from? Where did it start?

Often unfortunately at school. kids as we know can be incredibly cruel and if a sensitive child of 10, 11 or 12 at that unsure scary stage is bullied by classmates and one feature gets singled out that can haunt a child for the rest of their life.

I know, I was bullied, taunted at school for being ‘fat’. I wasn’t – not really. 

But even a teacher called me the fat girl and kids laughed, of course they did. I trust and hope that would never happen today but it scarred me for many years. I grew up in the era of Twiggy, mini skirts, all the girls were long legged and thin. I was 5’2. Spending my life on diets and wanting to be thinner, never feeling acceptable, always comparing myself to others.

And the trouble with body dysmorphia is that a person will look inward and it can cause stress, anxiety, depression. Which in their turn can lead to substance abuse, eating disorders, and a host of minor illnesses not to mention the money spent trying to ‘fix’ the problem.

It can often lead to anti-social behaviours as well as attempted suicide or suicidal thoughts.

Difficult to get out of your head and into reality. Body dysmorphia can become a life threatening disease, because it can affect your whole life, your relationships and work.

In Part 2 expert Adrienne Marks looks at how to fix Body Dysmorphic Disorder and includes her own personal experiences…

Connect with WatchFit Expert Adrienne Marks

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