Body Dysmorphic Disorder: What It Is and What You Can Do About It

Health Trackers > Wellness Tips > Body Dysmorphic Disorder: What It Is and What You Can Do About It

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: What It Is and What You Can Do About It

Have you ever looked in the mirror and been unhappy with the image looking back at you? If so, you are not alone. While most people are unhappy with at least one aspect of their appearance at some point or another in their lives, some people exhibit was is known as “body dysmorphia.” This condition is not just a fleeting moment of unhappiness with a perceived flaw but is instead a recognized mental health disorder in which a person feels so anxious about that supposed “flaw” that they can even begin to avoid social situations because of it.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that around 1 in 50 people have this disorder, an amount that equates anywhere from 1.7% to 2.4% of the general population. People with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) fixate on minor details about their appearance and obsess over them to the point where they cannot function as they normally would without the disorder.

When people first begin to experience symptoms of BDD, they are usually around 12 to 13 years old. It is suspected that a combination of both biological and environmental factors can cause the condition to develop, but like many mental health disorders, the causes are not known for certain.

If you or someone you know are experiencing BDD, there are many resources available to help mitigate the effects and severity of the issue. If someone suspects that they may have the disorder, it is important that they visit a health professional, as only properly licensed medical personnel can effectively diagnose it.

You can use this nine question guide by the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation to help you get a general understanding your current perceptions about your body. The questionnaire will assess information such as the number of times you check the appearance of your “flaws” each day and the extent to which the troubling features affect your social life.

If you are currently working on improving your self-image and developing a positive relationship with your body, you can take steps to make this happen. Some of the modifications you can try are found below.

Rephrase your wording when you are talking to yourself. – Instead of thinking or saying a statement such as “My nose is way too big,” try changing your thought patterns to something like, “My nose is one of my unique features” or “I am happy to have my grandmother’s nose shape.”

Stick up for yourself if someone makes a negative comment about your body. ­­– If you have a “friend” or relative that constantly belittles something about your appearance, call them out on it. If you are uncomfortable with confrontation, you can try a gentle reminder like, “That wasn’t a nice thing you just said” or “That statement hurts my feelings.” While you cannot control other people’s actions, you can help create a positive environment around you in the ways that you can control.

Encourage the people around you to improve their body image, too. – Surrounding yourself with people who speak positively about their own bodies can help you feel better about yours. Recognize when your friends and family are falling into the trap of negative self-talk and be a support to one another.

While there is no “cure” for body dysmorphic disorder, you can find ways to improve your quality of life and minimize its effect on you.

Skip to content