The modern standards of beauty have severely distorted people’s self-image. Watching ripped, muscular men with chiselled abs and jawlines and women with sculpted bodies and sharp features on social media can adversely affect people’s confidence and stress levels.
Everyone wants to be beautiful nowadays, and there’s no harm in it but being obsessed with your body can lead to a mental health condition called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) or body dysmorphia. Even celebrities who people idolise suffer from BDD. Hollywood star Megan Fox, who has been featured on several most beautiful women lists and is idolised by numerous women, recently revealed her struggles with body dysmorphia. Dive in to learn what is BDD and everything to know from its meaning, history, symptoms, causes and treatment.
What is Body Dysmorphia?
Body dysmorphic disorder is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that was first identified by Italian psychiatrist Enrico Morselli in 1891. The term “dysmorphia” is derived from a Greek word meaning misshapenness or ugliness.
BDD has become more common and prominent in the modern world. It’s especially prevalent among adolescents and is estimated to affect around 0.7% to 2.4% of the population. BDD can severely alter a person’s way of living and negatively affect social and personal life.
Narcissistic obsession with the body is usually fueled by positivity regarding one’s appearance while BDD is fueled by a negative view.
What are the symptoms of Body Dysmorphia?
The biggest and most common symptom of body dysmorphia is a dislike of one’s appearance. It can range from the dislike of the smallest body part like your ears to your entire body.
The following are the symptoms of BDD:
- Worry a lot about a specific area of your body (usually the face)
- Spend significant time comparing your looks with other people’s
- Check yourself in mirrors or avoid mirrors completely
- Spend a long time trying to conceal your flaws – excessive makeup, combing hair frequently, difficulty choosing clothes
- Picking your skin
- Frequent weighing
- Taking selfies, using filters, and heavily editing your pictures
- Over-shopping and frequent changing of clothes
- Seeking cosmetic surgery
What is the cause of Body Dysmorphia?
There are many causes of body dysmorphic disorder. Most are purely mental, while a few stem from underlying health problems. You can check the causes of BDD below:
Abuse or bullying: Traumatic experiences, especially at a young age can result in a negative self-image. Bullying, child abuse and neglect are the main culprits.
Low self-esteem: Individuals with low self-esteem are more likely to develop BDD because of their inherent insecurities. They are particularly concerned about their appearance.
Fear of being rejected
Perfectionism or comparing yourself with others: the race to achieve perfection is never ending, and there’s really no point in constantly comparing yourself with others because no matter what you do, there will always be someone better than you.
Genetics: Mental health disorders like BDD can run in the family and be inherited by the offspring.
Depression, anxiety or OCD: These conditions are known to accelerate negativity and mood changes in people and can give rise to body dysmorphia as well.
Body Dysmorphia Treatment
Body dysmorphia is a common but mild disorder that can be easily treated with professional help. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most preferred type of treatment for BDD. It is a type of talking therapy that involves talking to an expert or in a group. CBT can help people with BDD manage their symptoms and deal with their insecurities. It also identifies triggers of BDD and how patients can perceive their situation and feel differently.
Anti-depressant medicines are also used to treat body dysmorphia.