Understanding the type of eating disorder or disordered eating behavior you or a loved one is displaying can help provide you with the information you need to make a decision about steps to move forward. Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD, is a type of eating disorder that’s characterized by body dysmorphia, an intense focus on personal appearance that’s debilitating to daily life. Find out more about the signs of body dysmorphia to determine if you or a loved one may be dealing with BDD.
What It’s Like to Live With Body Dysmorphia
Everyone may have something about their body that they don’t necessarily like – and that’s normal. However, a person with BDD will become obsessed with specific things about their body or face that they simply can’t get past. And, these ‘issues’ may not even be something that others find unattractive or even notice. For example, a person with BDD may become obsessed with losing weight in specific areas of their body when others don’t think that they need to lose weight in these areas at all. Or, people with BDD may think that their nose is ugly or unattractive while others may find this person’s nose to look completely normal. Regardless of the specific issues that people with BDD may have about their appearance, the defining characteristic of this disorder is the same; people with this mental illness become so obsessed with these aspects of their appearance that they spend abnormal amounts of time fixating on these issues (looking in the mirror, talking about these issues, researching surgery, etc.).
The fixation that people with BDD have with aspects of their appearance can become debilitating because the time they spend obsessing over these supposed ‘flaws’ takes their time away from daily life. And, can affect their self-confidence. So, they may avoid doing things like being around people in social situations, going swimming, or any other activity in which they may expose the aspect of their body that they’re fixated on. Therefore, the quality of life for people with BDD can decrease and make living with this issue very difficult.
Identifying the Causes of BDD
Eating disorders like BDD can be the result of a number of reasons. Some of the causes of the development of BDD can include:
- a family history of the disorder
- environmental factors such as a family member or role model displaying body dysmorphia behaviors
- the development of other mental health issues like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- having another eating disorder
- experiencing peer pressure
Some Signs of Body Dysmorphia to Look Out For
Along with identifying some of the causes of BDD that may be prevalent in your life, identifying signs of body dysmorphia can also help you determine if you may be dealing with this type of disordered eating behavior. Some of the signs of body dysmorphia and BDD can include:
- repeatedly checking appearance in the mirror or avoiding mirrors altogether
- changing clothes a lot
- feeling the need to shave or brush hair more often than usual
- excessively exercising
- skipping meals or undereating
- picking at hair, nails, skin, etc.
- avoidance of social settings
- the need for validation or approval of appearance from others
- using specific items of clothing to hide the appearance of the perceived ‘flaw’
- using makeup as a way to mask a perceived ‘flaw’
- researching and utilizing cosmetic procedures in order to address perceived ‘flaws’
- avoiding having pictures taken
Treatment for BDD and Body Dysmorphia
Do you recognize the signs of body dysmorphia in your life or a loved one’s life? Eating disorder treatment can help provide individuals dealing with this issue with education, support, and coping skills in order to manage and overcome this eating disorder. Willow Place for Women in Asheville, North Carolina offers outpatient eating disorder treatment along with supportive housing in order to provide women living with eating disorders like BDD with this assistance. Learn more about our outpatient approach to eating disorder treatment and the evidence-based and supportive therapies we make available from our website.