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The Connection Between Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Low Self-Esteem

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“Someone with BDD constantly obsesses about their appearance, spends hours in front of the mirror, throws fits because they don’t look how they want, [seeks] constant validation about their looks, turns to surgery as a way to change their bodies, focus on one or two specific imaginary defects on their bodies, and are never satisfied – no matter what – with just being themselves,” Hylen added.

Natascha Santos, a certified bilingual school psychologist and behavior therapist who specializes in obsessive compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder, said in an email that people with BDD often have depression, which is associated with low self-esteem. Many BDD sufferers also have suicidal thoughts.

“With low self-esteem and overvalued ideation on this perceived/imagined body defect, they really believe that there is something wrong with the body part of concern,” Santos said.

Laura Cipullo, a registered dietician, certified diabetes educator and nutritionist, said in an email that some people recovering from eating disorders suffer from BDD, and even more suffer from low self-esteem.

“While there is no clinical definition of low self-esteem, it is generally defined as an absence of a sense of contentment and self-acceptance that stems from a person's appraisal of their own worth, significance, attractiveness, competence and ability to satisfy their aspirations,” Cipullo said.

“Those struggling with low self-esteem often take things very personally, have difficulty in social interactions, are unable to accept compliments, and have pessimistic tendencies. Low self-esteem puts one at greater risk for an eating disorder.”

She agreed that BDD and low self-esteem almost always are present together.

“Several studies have been conducted finding those suffering from BDD also experience lower self-esteem compared to those not suffering from the disorder,” Cipullo said.

“It is unclear at this time whether poor self-esteem predisposes one to BDD and/or is a consequence of the disorder, but a correlation definitely seems present.”

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June 18, 2015 - 11:11am
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Anonymous

O my goodness, I have this! I used to be very confident in my own skin. I have always struggled with my weight but, it always seemed to bother my mom more than it bothered me. I am who I am. At least that was my old way of thinking. In 2003 I was diagnosed with graves disease and over the past 2 years my spirit has declined. I can't even work anymore and I haven't for about 2 years. I have dealt with alot of stress having a child who is ODD and ADHD poses in a challenge itself. All of a sudden I started pulling out my hair! I don't understand why I do I had great hair. Then everything started when I had saw an old family friend who had no idea who I was until he heard my voice! Then I would start to notice any pictures that I was in were horrible! I looked like an alien or something. Then I was grocery shopping and a little boy says to his mom that girl is freaky look at her eyes! I do take forever to get myself ready to go anywhere. I absolutly hate to be around people! I do look like a freak! I was going to therapy but, felt it wasn't often enough. they could only see me maybe once a month, I wanted to be seen every day! I did leave out that over these past 2 years that my levels have been on a rollercoaster! That doesn't help! I hate who I have become. I tell my husband all the time I just want my life back, I just want to feel normal again!

April 27, 2012 - 5:48am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.