Characterized by tormenting obsessive thoughts concerning appearance and time consuming compulsive behaviors, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), is often mistaken as vanity, yet it is a serious and chronic psychological condition with potentially life threatening consequences.
On average it affects 1-2 people per 100 making it more common than schizophrenia and anorexia, yet it is severely under recognised and undiagnosed.
The appearance concerns of BDD can exist in relation to one or multiple areas of the body and make you feel like you look abnormal, deformed or disfigured. Resulting in anxiety, distress and self-loathing.
These feelings occur as obsessional thought patterns which are time consuming, repetitive, difficult to control and can make it very hard for you to concentrate on anything else.
Common symptoms are also fuelled by these feelings and take form in repetitive behaviours with the intention of hiding, inspecting, improving or gaining reassurance about your perceived appearance problem.
The perceived flaws cause significant distress, and your obsession impacts your ability to function in your daily life. To you, your appearance seems so shameful that you don’t want to be seen by anyone. This can lead to social isolation and a lack of close relationships.
One of the factors that make BDD so complex is that the experience of the sufferer is so different from how it appears to friends, family and outside parties. This often leads to misunderstanding, unfair judgement, and makes it extremely hard for others to recognise the disorder.
A deeper awareness of BDD is needed in order to change current perceptions of the disorder and for those who are suffering in silence to get help.
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For more info on BDD visit http://www.bddalliance.org