Saturday, August 13, 2011

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

At a young age I was overwhelmed with anxiety and depression that no one could ever figure out. I sought help of Guidance Councillors, Psychiatrists and Social Workers, and I was a mystery case. No medicine or help would help me. Over the years it progressively got worse, until one day, senior year of High School. I saw an Oprahepisode on Body Dysmorphic Disorder. A disease where people are so consumed by the way they look that they do not leave their house, and it interferes with their social health, leading to major anxiety and depression. I know this is what I had, constantly picking at my hair and skin was something I had done since I was a child. I immediately researched the disease to find that it is common and widely unknown. I sought help from a specialist and over time have began to accept my flaws and lead a happy life. BDD gets worse with aging, people begin to see little flaws that no one else notices and begin to obsess over it and it can lead to bigger, darker problems.

Some Symptoms of BDD are similar to that of Eating Disorders but should not be confused with one another.

The symptoms are as follows:

Frequently comparing one's appearance with that of others, or scrutinising the appearance of others;

Often checking how one looks in the mirror: camouflaging the perceived defect with clothing, makeup, a hat or a hand, or changing one's posture, often this can draw attention to the perceived defect convincing the sufferer of the offensiveness of its appearance.

Seeking surgery, dermatological treatment, or other medical treatment for appearance concerns when doctors, parents, or peers have said such treatment is unnecessary; Constantly seeking reassurance about the perceived flaw or attempting to convince others of its repulsiveness;

Excessive grooming (combing one's hair, shaving over and over, removing or cutting hair, applying heavy makeup or cover-up creams); picking at one's skin or squeezing pimples/blackheads for hours, avoiding mirrors,

Exercising or dieting excessively;

Frequently touching the perceived defect, measuring the "unpleasant" body part;

Excessively reading about the supposed defective body part, avoiding social situations.. in which the perceived defect might be exposed; and feeling very anxious and self- conscious around peers because of the perceived defect.

If you feel like you or someone close to you is suffering from BDD, I suggest seeing a specialist, it changes your outlook on life once you rid of the anxiety about appearance, most cases of BDD go unnoticed, so I felt it was my duty to shine some light on a sensitive matter.

Brenda Rusnak is a health care specialist who writes about health-aging and prevention.

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