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In a world filled with unrealistic beauty standards and unrealistic social media posts, people might experience insecurities about their appearances from time to time. It is normal for people to feel less confident about a specific part of their body. Yet you should pay attention if the worry about your appearance takes too much time of yours. If you feel like your worry affects your daily life, you might be concerned about your appearance more than the general population.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a type of psychological disorder. People experiencing BDD can be excessively worried about a part of their body and/or they might have a general feeling of ugliness. They might find themselves spending too much time thinking about that body part of theirs that they do not like. It is also possible that they might be avoiding mirrors or the opposite they may be spending too much time in front of the mirror.

There is a wide range of appearance concerns that all of them can not fit everyone. They can be very specific such as being too pale or having asymmetric chest hair. Mainly, people are mostly concerned about their skin, face, weight, and hair. When a person constantly thinks that they do not look beautiful, they can come up with ideas to look and feel better. Since the focused “flaw” can be different for anyone, people may come up with different strategies for each of them. Some people might apply excessive makeup, some would undergo too many plastic surgeries and some can have a strict diet. These strategies can be harmful physically as well, such as a person might undergo too many surgeries in a short time when it is risky to do.

 Being very busy with negative thoughts about your appearance can bring some other problems too. You might experience difficulties at work or school. You might be isolating yourself from others because of the shame you feel about your appearance. It can interrupt your social life and relationships. You might avoid dating, you might avoid going to the beach, etc. It might interfere with your daily life and affect you negatively. In relation to these, you might experience other psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, or social phobia.

People can develop BDD because of various reasons. It is difficult to exactly point out a specific reason for having BDD, several factors can play a role in this process. Firstly, our genetics affect everything including our mental health. Our genes and chemicals in our brains can affect the development of any mental condition including BDD. Social and cultural expectations and influences can be a factor as well. Experiencing some challenging life events such as rejection and bullying can be triggering too.

It can be difficult for people to accept that they are not ugly in reality and these thoughts are the result of a psychological condition. The first step of overcoming such problems is accepting that you have a problem. If you think you are experiencing these problems, you can seek help and see a professional. The problems you are experiencing can get better with therapy and medication if needed. With appropriate treatment, you can feel less anxious and depressed. You can have better control of your thoughts and obsessions and you can feel better overall.

If you think your may be struggling with BDD and would benefit from professional support, you can find help here.

Başak Turan is an intern at Willingness. She is a psychology graduate and currently a Clinical Psychology master’s student in the University of Bergamo, Italy.

References:

Mellman, L. A. (2010). Understanding body dysmorphic disorder: An essential guide.