”Its about feeling like a stranger to my body.”

”I don’t see in me what other people see when they look at me.”

”I’m strong because I get up everyday, knowing that I have to face what I hate the most.”

”It would be nice to look in the mirror and feel comfortable enough to leave the house.”

Body dysmorphia… another mental health issue thats seen as ‘silent’ or ‘hidden’ an emotional attachment to the flaws that are hated so much, that far to many people suffer with. Most like depression, eating disorders and anxiety.

Sometimes its seen as attention seeking, when in reality you live in a state of never being able to love yourself. Imagine waking up everyday, looking in the mirror, falling on the floor and crying because you physically can’t stand what you see in the mirror, people suffer with this daily, just like people suffer with depression, anxiety and many other types of mental health issues, but sometimes its believed they aren’t recognised enough. It’s a dangerous cycle of viciously hating your image.

Its becoming obsessed with that little extra bit of fat on your stomach, your facial features not being the way you want, constantly comparing yourself to everyone else, because you just feel like your not enough, its constantly trying to love yourself, but the truth is you just can’t.

BDD shares some common features with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is similar to eating disorders in that both involve a concern about a body image. However, a person with an eating disorder worries about their weight and the shape of their entire body, while a person with body dysmorphia is concerned about a specific body part.

With this is can become so obsessive that you’re constantly focusing on that specific flaw, constantly looking in the mirror, picking at it, thinking of ways you can make it ‘better’. Quite often, they will turn to surgery to see if that helps them feel better, it can become a constant feeling of you have to change, because you don’t see anything good about yourself.

It can be as hard as looking in the mirror and seeing a ‘monster’ you find so many flaws on your body or face, that you simply hate. You just see someone staring back who is insecure and hurt by the fact they can’t love their selves a little more.

Its hard to just sit still without constantly wanting to go and check how they look in the mirror. Their appearance is constantly on their mind. They take constant photos, in different angles and will examine them for hours on end. Some days, they might even cancel plans with friends of family because they’re too upset about how they look. Somehow no matter how long they try, they can’t look ‘right.’

Everyone around them is doing well, getting their ‘beach’ bodies, working hard on their selves, but they are still staring in that mirror, thinking of them flaws a little bit more, constantly, day in day out, until it drives them insane, to the point they try doing everything you can to change it and sometimes its not even in the healthier ways.

Its a chronic long term disorder that affects men and women equally. It usually begins during the teen years of early adulthood.

Most common concerns for people with BDD:

  • Hair: Can be on the head or body
  • Facial features: Quite often its the nose, but it also might involve the shape of size of any feature
  • Body weight: Suffers may obsess about their weight or muscle tone
  • Skin imperfections: Wrinkles, scars, acne and blemishes

Symptoms of BDD:

  • You worry a lot about a specific area of your body
  • Spend a lot of time comparing your looks with other peoples
  • Look at yourself in mirrors a lot of avoid them altogether
  • Go to a lot of efforts to cover up your flaws, spending excessive amounts of time on your makeup, hair, clothes that if it still doesn’t look right, you’ll keep going back to it, no matter how long it takes
  • Hating a specific part of your body
  • Thinking of getting surgery to help the issue

It can seriously affect your life, including work, socialising and relationships. It can often lead to depression, self-harm and even thoughts of suicide. 

Individuals with BDD are preoccupied with at least one perceived defect or flaw in their physical appearance, that may not even be visible to others. Just because they’re constantly looking or thinking about something that they hate, doesn’t mean they ‘love’ their selves like most people think because they’re constantly talking about that specific flaw, when to others there’s nothing wrong with it, in fact they’re trying to love their selves, but they constantly feel ashamed.

It starts roughly at the ages of when you become a young adult, when you start to develop your own identity, gain more independence, develop close friendships and romantic relationships. It can be hard to think about anything besides your appearance when you’re trying to make new friends or get into a relationship, you may fear of being judged or rejected. These thoughts can make it impossible to hang around with the people who you care about, but the more time you spend apart from them, the worse you feel, and it can all seem so daunting.

Causes for BDD:

There is not actually a legitimate reason for how its caused, but there are a few issues that can associate with it:

  • Genetics: Having a relative with BDD, obsessive compulsive disorder or depression
  • A chemical imbalance in the brain
  • Traumatic event in the past: Teased, bullied or abused as a child

Some people also have other mental health conditions such as OCD, anxiety disorder or an eating disorder. 

Therapy for BDD

It will include a lot of therapies, which is described as cognitive behavioural therapy, which you will either be in a group of on your own, this is if you have mild symptoms. If you have more moderate symptoms you should be offered either a CBT or a type of antidepressant medication called a selective serotonin re uptake inhibitor. If your symptoms are a lot more severe, you will most likely be offered a CBT and an SSRI.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) 

This can help you manage your BDD symptoms by changing the way you think or behave. It will help you find the triggers to your symptoms, and teach you the different ways of how to think and deal with your habits. You will reach a goal with your therapist and work together.

CBT for treating BDD will usually include something that is known as ‘exposure and response prevention. This means that they will gradually face situations that would normally make them think obsessively about their appearance and feel anxious. Working alongside your therapist, you will find ways of dealing with these feelings, over time, you become able to deal with them without feeling constantly self-conscious or afraid.

Watch this short speech from actress Lili Reinhart, who speaks about her issues with her body image and how being in a certain career path, can put so much pressure on you. Emotional and inspirational, that just proves it can happen to anyone. ”We aren’t born with these insecurities, we’re told to be insecure about certain things.”

You’re beautiful, you’re worth it and you will overcome this. 

”Life is way too short to spend everyday at war with yourself”

Call MIND on 0300 123 3393 or email them info@mind.org.uk.

Visit The Body Dysmorphic Foundation website to find out all the different ways you can contact them.



Journalism Student