7 Important Things To Know About Body Dysmorphia

Body dysmorphia might be something that you’ve heard, but you might not be 100 percent clear on exactly what it is. You’ve probably deduced that it has to do with our bodies given the name, but the rest might not be so clear to you. Maybe, you know what the disorder is about, but you haven’t realized its proper name.

Body dysmorphia (BDD) is a body image disorder where a person obsessively focuses on a perceived flaw or flaws in their body. Like many other disorders, people can get help with it so it’s not something anyone should have to suffer with in silence.

Even if you’re not affected by body dysmorphia, someone in your life might be. It could be a friend, relative, or an acquaintance. Recognizing the signs of body dysmorphic disorder can be helpful because it’ll give you a greater understanding of what the person is going through, which will hopefully allow you to support them better. Listen up. Here are seven important things to know about body dysmorphia.

It Affects About One In Fifty People

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, body dysmorphic disorder affects 1.7 to 2.4 percent of the population. That works out to one in fifty people. To put things into perspective, that means that there could very well be a couple people in your school year dealing with the disorder.

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It's Characterized By Obsessiveness

The vast majority of people have features that they like and ones that they don't like. A number of people will probably spend time coming to terms or even trying to conceal the features they aren't as keen on. The difference between that and someone with body dysmorphic disorder is that a person with BDD has an intrusive and/or obsessive preoccupation with the flaw. For example, he/she could spend hours in front of the mirror staring at it or want to hear from multiple people on a daily basis that their feature is fine. BDD will also impact the person's daily life to the point where they will avoid social situations because of it.

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The Feature Or Area Of Concern For The Person Might Be Real Or Imagined

I'm going to let the Mayo Clinic explain this one. They write, "Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder in which you can't stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that, to others, is either minor or not observable." In other words, the body part that might be causing a person intense stress might not have anything wrong with it. Or, it might have a slight difference but it's very, very minor compared to the extreme version a person with body dysmorphic disorder perceives it as.

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It Affects Guys And Girls Pretty Equally

Body dysmorphia might be something that you've heard about in terms of females, but it actually affects both genders pretty equally. ADAA reports that in the United States, BDD occurs in about 2.5 percent in males, and in 2.2  percent of females. It frequently occurs in teens, beginning around the ages of 12 to 13.

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There Are Various Signs Of Having Body Dysmorphic Disorder

There are a variety of signs that can point to having body dysmorphia, so it's important to be aware of them. They include constantly checking mirrors, excessive changing of clothes, avoiding social situations, avoiding mirrors, seeking surgery to *correct* the perceived flaw, picking skin, constantly asking others for reassurance, comparing bodies, feelings of shame, anxiety, etc. In more extreme cases, self-harm, depression, and misuse of drugs could be involved.

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There Are Different Causes And Risk Factors

Unfortunately, professionals haven't pinpointed exactly what causes body dysmorphia, but there are some factors that can play a role. Some studies show that genes and brain differences might account for it, according to the Mayo Clinic. Risk factors also include having another disorder, suffering from a traumatic event, having relatives with BDD or other disorders, and have qualities like perfectionism.

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There Are Treatment Options

Whether you or anyone you know is impacted by body dysmorphic disorder, know that there's no need to suffer in silence. Help is available. The treatment will vary depending on the individual, but it can include things like cognitive-behavioral therapy where a person learns to recognize their negative thoughts and obsessive behaviors. Medication might also be used.

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What did you know about body dysmorphia? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow the author, Heather Cichowski, on Twitter.


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