SlutBox's Guide to Body Dysmorphia 101
About One In Fifty People Have BDD.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 1.7 to 2.4 percent of the population, which works out to one in fifty people.
BDD is characterized by obsessiveness.
Everyone has features they don’t love, but there is a difference between not liking your tummy or your nose and having BDD. A person with BDD will suffer from intrusive and/or obsessive preoccupations with this perceived flaw. For example, they might spend hours in front of the mirror staring at the area. They might even need reassurance from multiple people on a daily basis that their feature is fine. BDD can even impact a person’s life to the point that they will avoid social situations and/or activities because of it. This in turn affects their ability to keep a job, maintian relationships, and feel socially fulfilled.
This “flaw” might be real or imagined.
Though the perceived defect or flaw in their appearance is very real to them, it may be minor or even undetectable to others. In other words, the body part that is causing the person intense distress might not have anything noticeably “wrong” with it. To their friends or family, this body part may look completely normal, or even be attractive!
BDD affects people of all genders.
According to the ADAA, BDD occurs in about 2.5% of males, and in 2.2% of females. (Less data exists for BDD in trans and gender non-conforming folx). It often presents in young people around the age of 12 to 13.
Signs of BDD.
Some symptoms and signs of Body Dysmorphic Disorder include: constantly checking mirrors, excessive changing of clothes, avoiding mirrors, avoiding social situations, seeking surgery to ‘correct’ the perceived flaw, picking skin, constantly seeking reassurance from others, constantly comparing their body to others’, feelings of shame, anxiety, etc. In more extreme cases, BDD can include or lead to self-harm, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and even suicide.
Causes of BDD.
While there aren’t specific causes in each case of BDD, there are some factors that can play a role. Some potential risk factors include: surviving past trauma, anxiety and perfectionism. Personal or familial history of mental illness can also be a factor.
You’re not alone!
Whether you or someone you love is affected by BDD, know that you’re not alone. With any mental illness, treatment varies depending on the individual. Cognitive-behavioral therapy that teaches a person to recognize their obsessive thoughts and behaviors can be very effective. And as you already know, love and support means everything to anyone struggling with mental health! If you recognize these signs in yourself or a loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out for help and support! The SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline number is 1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727). This is where you can receive general info on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. If you need it, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).