Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a condition that affects how an individual perceives his/her body image. People who are affected by this disorder have pervasive and sometimes debilitating thoughts about features of their face or body.
Body Dysmorphia can affect a person’s view of any part of their body, for example, someone obsessing over his or her nose shape or eye colour. This view, whether based off of a slight imperfection or an imagined one, is usually skewed in comparison to reality. But the thought process surrounding it has the ability to render the affected individual unable to participate in social situations on a daily basis.
While the causes of this disorder are unclear, they can stem from peer abuse and sexual trauma. The malfunctioning of serotonin in the brain or genetic predisposition can also make an individual prone to experiencing this disorder.
Symptoms of this disorder mostly include the affected individual experiencing obsessive thoughts about their appearance that can last for hours or even days. These obsessions are hard to resist and even harder to control and sometimes make it impossible to focus on anything other than what they may consider their own imperfections.
Due to these thoughts, persons afflicted by this disorder may utilize some kind of compulsive or repetitive behavior to cope. These usually include behavior to hide or improve their flaws by using makeup or certain clothes or seeking cosmetic surgery and excessive grooming, to name a few.
Individuals who suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder are often misdiagnosed as other common anxiety disorders, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, as they have similar symptoms.
Before any treatment options are considered, it is important to be diagnosed by a mental health professional. Treatment options usually fall into one of two categories: talk therapy or medicines. A combination of the two is usually the best option for both.
A popular treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy where the individual works to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. It is usually better to be evaluated and diagnosed at an early stage as the disorder usually worsens with the changes that age brings to our bodies.
Young persons and teenagers may be more at risk for this disorder as they are, on average, more exposed to the idea of ‘perfection’ floated on social media.
Online, we see men and women living lifestyles we consider ‘goals’. Whether it’s perfect selfies or bikini pictures; these faces and bodies usually reflect what is considered the acceptable standard of beauty.
This standard is usually not friendly to those who don’t have certain features, and as such, many find themselves falling short when they compare themselves to these images. While some of these images may be authentic, some of them are doctored to look a certain way and assisted by poses and specific outfits to present a certain image.
It is important to remember that not everything we see online is exactly how it is in reality, and even more importantly, the presence of another’s beauty does not mean the absence of yours. They can both exist without affecting the way you see yourself.
DISCLAIMER: THE VIEWS AND ADVICE PROFFERED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE NOT FOR MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT. IF YOU SUSPECT THAT YOU OR A LOVED ONE IS SUFFERING FROM MENTAL ILLNESS OF ANY KIND, PLEASE CONSULT A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.