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While everyone can find some fault with their body and physical appearance, people who suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder go far beyond recognizing they are not perfect. Their perceived imperfections bother BDD patients so much that they constantly worry about them. Though people with BDD can go to extreme lengths to feel better about their bodies, not even radical moves like plastic surgery help them see the bright side.
What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
Do you hate your body so much that you think about its flaws nearly all the time? Body Dysmorphic Disorder — BDD for short — is a body-image disorder in which people are constantly preoccupied by real but minor or completely imagined imperfections in their bodies. People who have BDD might have a problem with any one body part, or with a combination of different features. They may hate their hair, skin, stomach, nose, eyes, ears, bust, teeth, or anything else to the extent that it stops them from enjoying life.
Since there is no single definition of perfection, and nobody lives up to any definition of perfection, it's safe to say that everyone has features they're not especially fond of. You might realize you need to lose some weight, or even dream of liposuction. You might try to cover up your big ears with your hair, hate your bare legs, or be unhappy with your wrinkles.
People with BDD are impacted far beyond disliking one or more body parts; their perceived flaws bother them so much they can't live normally. Their negative thoughts about their body can give them constant stress, make them depressed, and severely limit their social interactions. In extreme cases, Body Dysmorphic Disorder can push someone to seek repeated plastic surgery procedures — but no surgery will ever make a BDD patient happy with his or her body.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects men and women in equal numbers, and about one percent of the US population has it. BDD usually rears its ugly (excuse the pun) head in adolescence.
We are not currently sure what causes the life-altering disorder, but it's thought that genetic factors play a role, along with life experience, personality, and even serotonin levels.
Do you think you or someone you know could have BDD? Here is a brief overview of the possible symptoms:
- Patients suffer from negative thoughts about their body for multiple hours a day, or even the entire day.
- They might avoid social situations as much as possible.
- People with BDD can go to extreme lengths to hide the body parts that make them feel bad, including wearing heavy makeup or clothes, hats or wigs.
- They may also shun mirrors or, alternatively, look in the mirror constantly to obsess about their problem areas.
- Even more troubling parts of BDD include nervous habits such as skin picking or hair pulling, making mental or verbal comparisons between their own bodies and those of others, and having plastic surgery procedures.