We live in a vain and appearances-obsessed society, but being shallow and high-maintenance isn’t considered a mental disorder.
However, a small percentage of people do struggle with their appearance on a daily basis to the point where it does become a mental illness.
In body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), people have “a preoccupation with a defect in appearance,” according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). This preoccupation is excessive, even though the physical abnormality is only slight or imagined.
This unusual focus on certain aspects of one’s appearance can lead to a struggle in everyday functioning. BDD is considered to be a somatoform disorder in the DSM.
Here are the top 13 signs of body dysmorphic disorder that you can be aware of, although BDD symptoms and signs are not limited to the following:
1) “An obsessive preoccupation with the way one looks physically,” said Karen Hylen, a primary therapist at Summit Malibu, a treatment center for addiction and other disorders. She treats many patients with compulsion issues and BDD.
2) “Spending an inordinate amount of time with personal grooming, attempting to achieve perfection when it is not possible,” Hylen added.
3) “Ruminating thoughts that others take notice of your defects, and that they view those defects in a particularly negative manner,” Hylen said.
4) “An overwhelming need for approval of your appearance. The person would need constant reassurance that they ‘look great’ and seek out compliments in an unorthodox manner,” Hylen added.
5) Compulsive behaviors that relate to a preoccupation with part of one’s appearance.
“Compulsive behaviors can include mirror checking or avoiding, camouflaging the perceived defect, avoiding situations where the defect is visible, excessive use of cosmetic products, etc.,” said Natascha Santos, a certified bilingual school psychologist and behavior therapist who specializes in obsessive compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder.
6) “A strong, all-encompassing belief that you have an abnormality or specific defect that you must fix at all costs,” Hylen said.