Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD as it is also referred to, is a psychological disorder in which sufferers believe their body, or certain parts of their body are defective.
It is a serious disorder and often goes undiagnosed, especially as negative self-talk is often accepted in today’s society. Sufferers aren’t just displaying typical insecurities that we all feel from time to time.
They feel like their appearance is very flawed. So how can we tell if our belief that we have a big nose or huge thighs is actually something more serious than an insecurity? Below are five signs that might indicate you are suffering from BDD.
You never feel engaged in what you are doing.
This symptom can show itself if for example you are talking to someone but rather than take part in the conversation completely you spend the whole time worrying that the person you are talking to is looking at the part of your body you feel unhappy with.
You think that all she is thinking is how disgusting your nose is, or how much your chin juts out. If you go to an exercise class, you spend the whole time thinking everyone is staring at your thighs or thinking how awful your butt looks in the sweat pants you are wearing. You feel more comfortable at home in baggy clothes hiding under a blanket so you don’t have to look at yourself.
You hate mirrors
Do you avoid looking at your reflection at all costs, or when you do look in a mirror you are constantly thinking your ears look bigger than they did the last time or that last meal you ate is showing on your stomach already? Many BDD sufferers have an abusive relationship with mirrors and some people might even joke that you are always admiring your reflection.
In fact, the opposite is true. You are not looking at yourself to see how great you look, you are obsessing that the reflection you see in the shop window makes you look even worse than the last reflection you saw of yourself in the bathroom mirror earlier that day.
You have developed unhealthy coping mechanisms
You may have an eating disorder, a drink or drug problem, a shopping addiction, an addiction to exercise or even an addiction to plastic surgery.
These can be secondary symptoms to BDD as you believe that not eating properly will reduce the size of your thighs, or running 10 miles a day will flatten your stomach. Most sufferers will try do anything to fix whatever problem they think they have with their body immediately, even if it means drinking or taking drugs to escape the obsessive thoughts you are constantly plagued with about your body.
You keep comparing yourself to others
If you are at the shops you will look at people around you and compare the amount of acne they have to what acne you perceive you have. You might think that if you had been given the thighs of the woman working in reception you would look so much better and be so much happier.
Sometimes this obsessive comparing can even affect your work and you might try to hide your ‘effected’ part of your body from yourself, with a sweater on your lap hiding your ‘fat’ stomach for example, simply so that you can try to do your work without constantly comparing yourself to your co-workers.
Negative thoughts about your body consume you daily
BDD can consume your every waking hour. Sometimes it can start slowly, just a niggle about a certain body part, but then it becomes bigger, you start thinking negatively about other body parts and before you know it you are too scared to sit between two people on the tube in case you can’t fit as you think you are too big.
Sometimes sufferers will even avoid showering because seeing themselves naked and imagining how much of their body they want to cut off is just too much to bear. You might even cross the road to avoid walking past people because you think you won’t both be able to stay on the pavement and you constantly watch your friend’s eyes to see how much they are staring at your ‘ugly’ body.
If you believe you may be suffering from BDD you must talk to someone about it right away. The condition can be treated and sufferers do overcome the disorder to then go on and lead a life not consumed with such obsessive thoughts about their body.