Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Negative Self-Image

We have also experienced the fear of feeling ugly or deformed, but when this fear becomes an obsession and forces you into social isolation, depression and even suicide, this is called body dysmorphic disorder; an obsessive-compulsive disorder which is still relatively unknown…

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is the obsessive fear of being ugly or deformed. This disorder affects around 2% of the population worldwide. Much more than a simple physical complex, body dysmorphic disorder can lead to social withdrawal, depression and even suicide. What is body dysmorphic disorder? How can you detect it and treat it? We’ve got more about it below.


The holidays and spending time on the beach is approaching, or you might already be there, and no doubt your small insecurities are going to resurface. And yes, it’s hard comparing your figure to those perfect and unachievable ones found in magazines. But when this insecurity becomes a bigger obsession, then it is likely you have Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Not that well known, this disorder is sometimes even ignored by those that have it as they are so focused on their body.


What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)? Symptoms and signs

Going through adolescence is a difficult time for accepting and embracing your body. Although young people spend countless hours looking at themselves, there is nothing abnormal about it. However, it’s during adolescence that symptoms for Body Dysmorphic Disorder will start to appear, even though people are more commonly diagnosed with it in their 30’s.


Body Dysmorphic Disorder of the face and body

People suffering from this disorder are ashamed of one or several parts of their body, often the head and face, but the obsession can extend to their figure or weight, in the case of eating disorders. They might spend many hours looking at themselves in the mirror, inspecting all their marks, trying to cover up their faults; eyes, nose, teeth, etc. Their body is the subject of suffering. Those with the disorder feel disfigured, freakish and their behavior might alter the psychological and social functioning of these people.


Muscle dysmorphia

Although body dysmorphic disorder affects both men and women, muscle dysmorphia is said to be equivalent to anorexia nervosa in men. The very muscular individual continuously sees themselves as being too thin, skinny and small. Their obsession therefore leads them to carry out intensive sport, accompanied with dieting and taking nutritional supplements.

Consequences and causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

The shame experienced often forces those suffering with BDD to have difficulty socializing with others. They might stay cooped up at home when it is raining or windy for fear that their makeup might wash away or their hair may get messed up. Able to spend the entire day thinking about their faults, many live alone and don’t work because this obsessive-compulsive disorder forces them to socially withdraw from life. Some apply so much cream or treatment that they cause themselves injuries.

Those with BDD have very low self-esteem and often suffer from depression. It is common for them to try and solve their issues by going to see a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon. But this is just an illusion as clinical intervention will only simply shift the problem onto another part of the body.


In the most severe cases, in an attempt to improve their physical appearance, some go as far as carrying out surgery themselves on their own body or attempting suicide.

This disorder has multiple causes:

  • Being mistreated or mocked about their looks during childhood
  • Failure, a breakup and betrayal may lead to focusing on a fault or flaw and convincing yourself that that is the reason for your suffering
  • Fear of sex, of which the imagined fault and ugliness protect you

>>> This article might be of interest: 6 Tips To Conquer Your Shyness Once And For All

How do can it be treated? Treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder

As social withdrawal and depression are so significant, you should turn to psychotherapy. Given the obsessive-compulsive nature of the disorder, cognitive-behavioral therapy has been proven to treat Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

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