The acronym BDD, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, is said often and not always for its real and true definition. We all have something about ourselves we do not like. That is understood. I personal HATE my stretch marks from being pregnant. I mean I really, really hate them. However, I don’t obsess about it, I accept that this happened because I am a women and I was blessed with two beautiful children. That being said, it has taken a lot of work to feel that way, but in no way caused anxiety or depression.
The tipping point of when parts that we hate of ourselves and what is BDD is when we become obsessed about what is perceived or a real flaw. The negative self-talk overwhelms you, bringing about anxiety and depression. The desire for change can force a person to try to change what is a perceived flaw without finding success in the manor they want. Like constant dieting, working out, starvation and surgery.
Unfortunately, this disorder treats men and women the same, and especially troubling, children as well. When talking about self-esteem issues there is no age, race, or gender discrimination. Only 1% of Americans are diagnosed with BDD because the manifestation of this disorder is often masked by other mental health conditions. No one searches for the root of this disorder of self-hatred.
In children, it can start as early as age 3. They are at high risk for social anxiety and depression. Some things to look for are, excessive grooming or make-uping, refusal to be in pictures, obsessing on flaws and constantly comparing themselves to others. Now, I know I just described just about every 13-year-old out there. We as parents must be vigilant at reassuring others and reinforcing positive self-worth.
As a trainer, I am constantly watching for this in my athletes. The reinforcement they receive builds up their confidence not what could be an under-lying disorder. This is a slippery slope as gains are made. My only recommendation is if you feel someone in your life may suffer from this disorder, get help. It’s ok to reach out to others. Feeling this way about yourself is no way to live. I know.
Stacie A. Zamperini M.Ed.