What Would I Look Like With Body Dysmorphia?

What Would I Look Like With Body Dysmorphia?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), also known as body dysmorphia, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the new category called obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. BDD is a body-image disorder that is “characterized by persistent and intrusive preoccupations with an imagined or slight defect in one’s appearance.” Every young person will inevitably experience bouts of insecurity surrounding his or her appearance. For this reason, it can be difficult to distinguish between behaviors associated with typical teenage insecurities and those that may be indicative of body dysmorphic disorder. While it is not uncommon for teenagers to be highly critical and overly dramatic when it comes to physical blemishes, with body dysmorphia the symptoms are debilitatingly pervasive. As is explained by the Mayo Clinic, if you have BDD you see yourself as having a “defect in your appearance that makes you ugly or deformed.” Hence, a teen with BDD will become overly preoccupied and obsessed with his or her imagined physical flaws to the point that it interferes with his or her ability to function optimally in everyday daily life.

Signs and Symptoms

Every young person is different and each teenager that struggles with body dysmorphic disorder is likely to experience a range of symptoms. The combination of symptoms and the severity of symptoms will vary, as they will be entirely dependent upon each individual teen. There are common signs and symptoms that young people with body dysmorphia could exhibit. Johns Hopkins Medicine provides the following examples an adolescent with body dysmorphic disorder may present with, including:

  • Easily embarrassed
  • Excessive grooming
  • Need for constant reassurance 
  • Obsessions with various parts of one’s physical body
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Constantly hiding the area of the body that is thought to physically defect
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Weight fluctuation
  • Unhealthy diets
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances

The effects of body dysmorphic disorder can have severe short and long-term consequences. If left untreated, BDD has the propensity to result in long-lasting damage to an adolescent’s self-esteem, social and emotional development, school performance, and physiological health. 

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