Imagined Imperfections

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a disorder in which someone is extremely concerned with appearance and imagines extreme defects on their body. In some cases, these defects are merely imagined, and in others, these severe defects are exaggerations of present flaws. This mental disorder is considered to be some form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or of a social phobia.

Complaints of flaws in the face, skin and hair are the most common. These “defects” however, can be seen anywhere, in the hands, feet and hips, or in relation to body size. Excessive complaints can be either specific or very general. BDD holds several characteristics similar to the eating disorder anorexia. The eating disorder, anorexia, has numerous eating disorder treatment clinics available for anorexia treatment.

Who has Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

BDD is estimated to affect around 2 percent of the U.S. population. In most cases, BDD begins in people under the age of 18. Males and females are equally susceptible to body dysmorphic disorder.

Types of people suffering from this disorder include:

  • Housebound people
  • The divorced and single
  • Those with social phobias, shyness
  • People with depression
  • Those with obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Someone with low self-esteem

Types of Body Dysmorphic Disorders

Body dysmorphic disorder comes in two different types:

  • Delusional – when a person imagines flaws on their body
  • Non-delusional – when a person exaggerates small, hardly noticeable defects on their body

Delusional body dysmorphic disorder is the least common of the two and typically more severe.

Ten Common Signs of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

  1. Constantly checking one’s appearance in reflective surfaces
  2. Grooming excessively
  3. Poor performance at work
  4. Obsessive with appearance
  5. Extreme diet and exercise
  6. Compulsively visiting and seeking out doctors
  7. Numerous plastic surgery operations
  8. Avoidance of social gatherings
  9. Picking at the skin to smooth it
  10. Comparing one’s self with others

The presence of a negative body image is characteristic of several eating disorders, as it is for body dysmorphic disorder. This unhealthy part of many eating disorders can be effectively treated through many eating disorder treatment centers.

Risks/Complications of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

There are many problems associated with BDD. These include:

  • Consequences of attempting one’s own surgeries
  • Depression, suicide
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor relationships
  • Negatively affected social, school and work life
  • Anxiousness
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