Body dysmorphic disorder, an excess of physical complexes

Trastorno dismórfico corporal, un exceso de complejos físicos

When you stand in front of the mirror, what is the first thing you see, the features that make you feel attractive or do you stare like a dagger at your supposed physical “defects”?

If you are in the second group, be careful. You could fall prey to body dysmorphic disorder, a mental condition that causes anxiety, low self-esteem and affects your daily performance.

Learn the symptoms and possible solutions to regain your balance and see the real version of you with greater compassion.

And at the end of the post, receive a FREE Guide to maintaining your self-esteem .

Important : This information is not intended to diagnose or offer medical or psychological treatments.

What is body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

Who hasn't woken up one day feeling like they have “an ugly high” or with a pimple on the tip of their nose that makes them look like Rudolph the Reindeer?

It's normal that you don't like something about your appearance or it makes you feel a little insecure.

Even models and artists admit that they dislike their nose, their teeth or their butt, although any mortal would die to look half as pretty as them.

The problem is when you spend days, months or years obsessed with changing your appearance . And if you don't achieve this, you enter a loop of intrusive thoughts that cause stress, anxiety, and make you spend time and money trying to hide or correct what you don't like.

This is defined as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) , which makes you see aspects of your appearance as abnormal or ugly, while others do not see them in the same way.

The nose, skin, abdomen, genitals, breasts, hair, mouth, hands, feet... are potential sources of contempt for people with BDD.

12 signs that you could suffer from body dysmorphic disorder

  1. You live scheming how to improve your body or eliminate a “defect”

  2. You compare your appearance with others.

  3. You ask for approval from your partner, family or friends, even if you don't believe them when they tell you that you look good

  4. Your imperfections cause you anxiety, depression or shame.

  5. You avoid socializing so that no one sees your flaws.

  6. You look compulsively in mirrors or avoid them altogether.

  7. You refuse to take photos and, if you appear in one, you keep looking for “the ugly” in yourself.

  8. You spend energy camouflaging or covering up perceived flaws.

  9. You go overboard with clothes, makeup, tanning, exercise, accessories and more.

  10. You are thinking of having surgeries or have had one, but you still see yourself as imperfect

  11. You think that others notice, talk about and make fun of your physical defect.

  12. You take a lot of selfies to check your appearance and use apps/filters to improve yourself.

  13. You cause self-harm or have suicidal thoughts because of your appearance.

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Who is more likely to suffer from BDD?

From 5 to 7.5 million people in the United States alone suffer from BDD, according to a study published by health and wellness analytics company, Elsevier.

There are two groups at higher risk:

  • Adolescents: it is a stage of profound changes. Comparisons, insecurities and external influences usually appear. And, in today's era, they want to look like perfect internet figures to be accepted in groups or else they feel unworthy and inferior.

  • Women with menopause: women can see and feel that their beauty and youth are running out. Wrinkles arrive, they cannot avoid sagging , gray hair, their levels of body fat increase, dry skin, cellulite and with them, insecurities. If you add that hormones alter your emotions, the table is set for the appearance of dysmorphia.

First actions to manage dysmorphic disorder

We are going to give you some guidelines that could help you manage this condition, but it is best to seek help from a psychologist:

  • Don't blame yourself: having BDD is not being crazy or being narcissistic. It is a real psychological disorder that can improve with the right help.

  • Focus on the present: it may be difficult at first, but with practice you achieve wonders. Involve your senses in what you do or practice a mindfulness meditation (you can find many options on the internet).

  • Have self-compassion: studies indicate that speaking to yourself with respect and empathy reduces symptoms of dysmorphia and improves stress and anxiety. How to do it? Talk to yourself as you would to a loved one, accepting yourself as you are.

  • Journal: Recording your thoughts and emotions helps you identify distressing thoughts and their triggers to control them.

  • Stay active : with a walk in the park, the beach or walking near your home, you generate endorphins that improve your mood. Focus on what is around you and if any intrusive thoughts come, don't fight with them, forgive them and let them go.

  • Stop comparing yourself : you are unique and, no matter how hard you try, you will not be the same as other women. Take a vacation from social media and, if it's hard for you, follow only accounts that are healthy for your mind.

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs: they are nervous system depressants that make you happy, disinhibited and relax just for a while. But when you return to your natural state, sadness, anxiety, negative thoughts and social isolation return.

  • Lean on a specialist: nothing you do is better than the help of a specialist. Look for a psychologist or psychiatrist who will give you tools to overcome this disorder.

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