Body shaming and feeling insecure about one’s body have become common problems in this modern world. Even successful celebrities like Uma Thurman, Marilyn Monroe, and Robert Pattinson have come out and confessed about suffering from body dysmorphia. A new report commissioned by Dove showed that a shocking 89% of Australian women have body insecurities and zero body confidence. This is truly a sad finding as both men and women around the globe have doubts about their body and how they look.
Not being comfortable in one’s own body and having low-self esteem effects a person in every step of his/her life. This problem can even lead to a dangerous phase if it becomes serious, resulting in a mental disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
Body Dysmorphic Disorder, also known as Body Dysmorphia is a mental disorder where a person thinks that his/her body is not perfect and spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in his/her appearances.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is common among teenagers and young adults and it is known to affect both men and woman in equal proportions. Well, this might make you think that you too have body dysmorphia but the major difference is the obsessive behavior a person exhibits thinking about the flaw. The flaw that is really minor to others, seems a major one for the patient due to which he/she feels chronic depression, anxiety, and social isolation.
Common symptoms of this condition include obsession over your body and face, repeated checking yourself in the mirror, combing hair and doing make up for hours, grooming, avoiding social events, staying alone, seeking out for cosmetic surgeries and so on.
However, some of the major symptoms of Body Dysmorphia include:
Strong belief that you are ugly and your body is deformed.
Destructive criticism about your appearance.
Undergoing cosmetic surgeries again and again
Stress due to the constant obsession with your looks that affects personal and professional life
Now that you know about the disorder, let’s move on to get more detail information about why one suffers from this condition.
Causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder(BDD):
There is no specific cause of body dysmorphia but experts have suggested that like many other mental disorders, a person can suffer from BDD due to following reasons:
Genetic combination- Researches have shown that BDD is a hereditary condition as it’s more common in those who have a history of this disorder or those who suffer obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Chemical imbalance in the brain
Traumatic experience of abuse or bullies during childhood
Anorexia (eating disorder)
Most people misinterpret, BDD with self-obsession but that’s not the case. The person suffering BDD often get indulge in ritualistic behaviors for hours like picking at your skin or standing in front of the mirror, changing dresses and so on. Although not easily diagnosed, this disorder affects a significant number of people globally, hence, it requires effective medical treatment.
Treatment of BDD depends on the nature of the disorder. The mild symptoms can be cured by undergoing a therapy called, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) whereas, under severe cases, certain medication might be required.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: It’s an effective form of treatment where the patient’s thoughts and behavior are changed by talking and finding out what triggers the symptoms. It helps to change the way you think about your body, through a technique called exposure and response prevention (ERP). Using this technique, the therapists will help you find other ways to deal with your obsessive behaviors.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): These are antidepressant medications that need to be regularly taken, but only under the doctor’s prescription. It might take up to 12 weeks for SSRIs to function on your BDD but there are some side effects of taking SSRIs.
The combination of medication with therapy is most effective in treating this mental disorder. If you don’t see any improvements in your symptoms, you may be referred to a mental health clinic or hospital that specializes in BDD. Not only this, trying out some relaxation exercises or yoga would be effective to relieve stress and anxiety.