Body dysmorphic disorder or BDD is a mental health disorder. People who suffer from this cannot stop thinking about flaws in their appearances. Usually, these flaws are either too small or unnoticeable. But to them, they're huge and debilitating. BDD also causes people to feel extremely anxious and ashamed about their appearances. Because of this, they tend to avoid social situations.

If you're suffering from BDD, you may intensely obsess over your body image. You either check the mirror all the time or avoid them altogether. There are several symptoms which characterize body dysmorphic disorder. They're typically psychological in nature and can affect one's life negatively.

Preoccupation with flaws

This is one of the most common symptoms of the disorder. If you suffer from BDD, you'll have an extreme concern with your flaws. But to others, the imperfections would seem minor or negligible. You'd believe strongly that you have defects and imperfections which make you deformed or unattractive.

Usually, you'd attempt to conceal your flaws in different ways. According to the studies, the cause of this condition may be in the family itself. You may have blood-relatives who have BDD or even OCD. Because of this, you may also have the condition and manifest the same symptoms.


Paranoia about the appearance

When you suffer from BDD, you may feel paranoid about your appearance. You believe that other people notice all your flaws. Then they mock you behind your back or think of you negatively. You would then obsess over one or more of your body parts. The obsession may shift from one body part to another over time.

Aside from having blood relatives with BDD, there are also other causes. You may have had negative experiences in your life. You may have suffered a traumatic experience or a lot of teasing when you were young. Also, you may possess specific personality traits such as perfectionism.


Always trying to hide imperfections

Another common symptom of BDD is always trying to hide imperfections. You'll start doing things to fix or hide all the "flaws" you have. These actions are very hard to control. It's like you're compelled to do them. Such actions include frequent grooming, checking the mirror or even skin picking.

The current trends and cultures are focused much on body image fixation. This may be a contributing factor which causes body dysmorphic disorder. If you already have a negative body image, such cultures can make things worse for you.



Constantly comparing oneself to others

If you're suffering from BDD, you may constantly compare yourself with others. No matter how different or similar you are with another, you'll just keep on comparing. You'll do this until you start feeling very bad about your own appearance. Aside from this, you may also tend to seek reassurance from others regularly.

One possible cause for comparison and always seeking reassurance is your environment. Your culture and your life experiences may contribute to your condition. This is especially true if you're always faced with negative social situations. If you were always neglected or criticized by the people around you, this symptom might manifest in you.


Avoiding social situations

Body dysmorphic disorder may also manifest in your social life. Because of your preoccupation with your appearance, it may cause you a lot of stress. This will then lead to problems in your work, social interactions, and other aspects of your life. Your condition may even push you to miss school, work or other social situations. You'll keep on finding excuses to stay away from others all because of your condition.

Like other issues which involve body image, there isn't a single cause for it. It may be due to genetic factors, upbringing, media, negative interactions, and more. It can even come from any coexisting mental disorders you may already have.



Distorted perception of appearance

When you're suffering from BDD, you may have a distorted perception of your appearance. This is why you're preoccupied or obsessed with how you look all the time. You also believe that you have a certain abnormality which makes you look ugly. You see the parts of your body as disproportionate. You may even think that your appearance is totally inadequate.

Focusing too much on a perceived defect is a classic symptom of BDD. You may focus on your hair, skin, eyes, height, or even your clothing. A possible cause for this perception is an abnormality in the structure of your brain. Your neurochemistry might play a role in the condition.



Undergoing frequent cosmetic procedures

Those who have BDD may also choose to undergo cosmetic procedures frequently. Aside from grooming frequently, they also go under the knife. They do this to change their appearance. However, no matter how much they change, they're never satisfied with the results. They still end up feeling extremely self-conscious about their appearance.

This fixation on the body image is uncommon. But it is more common in those who have family members with the same condition. If more than one person in your family has BDD, it may indicate a genetic reason behind it.


Irritability and social withdrawal

Irritability and social withdrawal are also symptoms of BDD. You may notice that you get irritated quite easily. Also, you may be quick to judge others as you do to yourself. Because of the social withdrawal, you may start experiencing problems in your relationships. You're always alone, and so you'll start getting negative feelings.

There's no specific cause for this condition. But evidence shows that it's caused by specific brain chemicals which occur naturally. In particular, serotonin is a chemical that's associated with our mood. It may play a role in causing BDD.


Feelings of anxiety

People who suffer from BDD may also get frequent feelings of anxiety. It may even manifest with symptoms of depression. These include a lack of motivation, fatigue, sleeping problems, and suicidal thoughts. This may also cause some physical symptoms to show.

BDD is a severe type of disease. This is especially true if accompanied by other mental disorders. The combination of such disorders can be very debilitating. Since there is no proven cause of BDD, it's hard to come up with concrete ways to prevent it.


Other psychological symptoms

Finally, this condition may also show other psychological symptoms. You may experience the same symptoms as someone suffering from OCD. You may start performing irrational actions and rituals. You'll do these because you think they'll improve your condition.

The societal expectations of beauty may be a contributing factor to BDD. Also, you already have a mental condition. In this case, the risk of developing the disorder increases. Couple this with negative experiences and these may lead to body dysmorphic disorder.



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