Body dysmorphia in Teens : Dr. Haseena Kabeer

 किशोरावस्था में बॉडी डिस्मोर्फिया

Author : Dr. Haseena Kabeer (DTM)


Body dysmorphia disorder (BDD) is described as a body-image disorder. When a person has BDD they are preoccupied with “persistent and intrusive” defects in their appearance. The defect is usually slight or even imagined. The person suffering with BDD doesn't see things for what they are. The imperfection they see causes emotional distress and may cause problems with every day functioning. Environmental and biological factors play a part in developing BDD but at this point the causes are unclear.

Obsessions with BDD are hard to control and makes it difficult for the sufferer to focus on anything except the “imperfections”. Compulsions may help alleviate some anxiety but the action is only temporary, the obsession will return. Although it has nothing to do with age groups yet teenagers are mostly affected with it .

In body dysmorphic disorder due to a distorted body image, patients experience social isolation, anxiety, increased depression, and suicide rates. The hidden nature of the disease makes it difficult to diagnose even in clinical setting. BDD has a heavy mental toll on the patient, plus it is very difficult to diagnose unless the clinician is aware about the nature of the disease, with the increasing incidence and influence of social media there needs to be increased awareness among caretakers as well as professionals working with adolescents like teachers to promote positive body image. BDD affects both men and women and generally starts in adolescent age group.BDD most often develops in adolescent years and many patients also report early trauma, bullying, childhood abuse, and neglect. Patients with BDD often seek dermatological and surgical consult often with no resolution; on the contrary, patients also try self-treatment like skin picking, etc. Though there is high degree of overlap between BDD and anorexia in that both root in perfectionism and certain differences in the overall physical concerns, some researchers argue that both of these can be classified under “body image disorders.”

Symptoms of BDD typically begin during adolescence, most commonly by twelve to thirteen years old.  If a child or teen obsesses about their appearance, is overly critical of perceived minor flaws and experiences severe distress as a result, they might be showing signs of body dysmorphic disorder.

You never feel perfect enough. You spend hours and hours getting ready to go somewhere, even to the grocery store. You are paranoid about people staring at you, you feel tons of anxiety, even before getting ready to go somewhere, maybe even a day or two before. You will avoid some situations. Most people don't understand why you are getting frustrated, and maybe angry with yourself about it. Then they get frustrated and angry with you, and then you are a hundred times worse than before, then you get very depressed.

Some common signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder includes -Being extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that to others can't be seen or appears minor, Strong belief that you have a defect in your appearance that makes you ugly or deformed, Belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way or mock you, Engaging in behaviors aimed at fixing or hiding the perceived flaw that are difficult to resist or control, such as frequently checking the mirror, grooming or skin picking, Attempting to hide perceived flaws with styling, makeup or clothes, Constantly comparing your appearance with others, Frequently seeking reassurance about your appearance from others, Having perfectionist tendencies, Seeking cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction, avoiding social situations.

Talking about the specific causes it's not known specifically what causes body dysmorphic disorder. Like many other mental health conditions, body dysmorphic disorder may result from a combination of issues, such as a family history of the disorder, negative evaluations or experiences about your body or self-image, and abnormal brain function or abnormal levels of the brain chemical called serotonin.

Complications that may be caused by or associated with body dysmorphic disorder includes Low self-esteem, social isolation, major depression or other mood disorders, suicidal thoughts or behavior, anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder ,obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, substance misuse, health problems from behaviors such as skin picking, Physical pain or risk of disfigurement due to repeated surgical interventions.

There's no known way to prevent body dysmorphic disorder except accepting ourselves the way we are. One thing, sooner or later, every human being has to understand and face this reality that everyone is on a journey of self-discovery and one has to stop feeding their fears by reacting to them. Try to see what happens; if you stop reacting to your fears. You can still hear it in your head. But, you can discern the power that this fear has over you. See, what happens, if you don't agree with the voice inside your head, continuously telling you, what is right and what is wrong. Give life the opportunity to surprise you. Your fear is stopping you from unearthing your actual potential, you haven't discovered as yet. (The author has his own study and views)