[accordion-item title=”About BDD”]Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is characterised by a preoccupation with one or more perceived defects or flaws in one’s appearance, which is unnoticeable to others or only slightly noticeable. Sometimes the flaw is noticeable but is normal (e.g. male pattern baldness) or is not as important as the sufferer believes. Sufferers experience an excessive self-consciousness and often feel as if the flaw defines their identity. They tend to repeatedly check on how bad their flaw is (for example in mirrors and reflective surfaces); or make attempts to camouflage or alter the perceived defect, or to avoid public or social situations or triggers that increase distress. In addition, the symptoms cause significant distress or handicap in one’s life. There is an increased risk of suicide and attempted suicide. They may at times be housebound and much needless cosmetic or dermatological treamtents. The older term for BDD is “dysmorphophobia”, which is sometimes still used. The media sometimes refer to BDD as “Imagined Ugliness Syndrome”. This isn’t particularly helpful as the ugliness is very real to the individual concerned. [/accordion-item]
[accordion-item title=”What if I have a “real” defect?”]This is the crux of the matter in BDD.BDD is a body image problem and if you have a “real” defect that others can easily notice, then you cannot have a diagnosis of BDD. Some sufferers will acknowledge that they may be blowing things out of proportion. Others are very firmly convinced about the nature of their defect that they do not believe a family member or friend or health professional who try to reassure them that their flaw is not noticeable or not important. Whatever the degree of insight into their condition, sufferers have often been told that they look “normal” many times. Sufferers may also have been teased or bullied in the past about their appearance (e.g. acne, “bat ears”) or competence but their appearance may have since changed.[/accordion-item]
[accordion-item title=”When does a concern with one’s appearance become BDD?”]Many people are concerned to a greater or lesser degree with some aspect of their appearance but to obtain a diagnosis of BDD, the preoccupation must cause significant distress or handicap in at least one area of one’s life. For example, someone with BDD might avoid certain social and public situations to prevent themselves from feeling uncomfortable and worrying that people are rating them negatively. Alternatively a person may enter such situations but remain very self-conscious. He or she may camouflage themselves excessively to hide their perceived defect by using heavy make up, brushing their hair in a particular way, changing their posture, or wearing heavy clothes. They may spend several hours a day thinking about their perceived defect and asking themselves questions that cannot be answered (for example, ”Why was I born this way?” “If only my nose was straighter and smaller”) They may feel compelled to repeat frequently certain time consuming behaviours such as:
- Checking their appearance in a mirror or reflective surface
- Checking by feeling one’s skin with one’s fingers
- Cutting or combing their hair to make it “just so”.
- Picking their skin to make it smooth.
- Comparing themselves against models in magazines or people in the street
- Discuss one’s appearance with others
- Camouflaging one’s appearance [/accordion-item]