Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I Have BDD!

No, it's NOT a STD! Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a psychological disorder, which I think contributes to my periodic low self-esteem and depressive episodes.

According to Mayoclinic, Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a type of chronic mental illness in which you can't stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance — a flaw either that is minor or that you imagine. But to you, your appearance seems so shameful and distressing that you don't want to be seen by anyone. Body dysmorphic disorder has sometimes been called "imagined ugliness." When you have body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely obsess over your appearance and body image, often for many hours a day. You may seek out numerous cosmetic procedures to try to "fix" your perceived flaws but never are satisfied. Body dysmorphic disorder is also known as dysmorphophobia, or the fear of having a deformity. I have a very strong feeling that I have BDD because I'm facing a lot of the symptoms and some of the complications as well.

Signs and symptoms of BDD include:
  • Preoccupation with your physical appearance (guilty!)
  • Strong belief that you have an abnormality or defect in your appearance that makes you ugly (guilty!)
  • Frequently examining yourself in the mirror or, conversely, avoiding mirrors altogether (guilty!)
  • Believing that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way (guilty!)
  • Frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction (not yet here...PHEW!)
  • Excessive grooming, such as hair plucking (nope!)
  • Feeling extremely self-conscious (sigh...guilty!)
  • Refusing to appear in pictures (guilty!)
  • Skin picking (guilty!)
  • Comparing your appearance with that of others (guilty!)
  • Avoiding social situations (not really, I enjoy socializing, meeting new people and I talk a lot!)
  • Wearing excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws (nope!)
Body features you may obsess about include:
  • Nose
  • Hair
  • Skin (guilty!)
  • Moles or freckles
  • Acne and blemishes (guilty!)
  • Baldness
  • Breast size
  • Muscle size (guilty...but not so much)
  • Genitalia
The body feature you focus on may change over time. You may be so convinced about your perceived flaws that you become delusional, imagining something about your body that's not true, no matter how much someone tries to convince you otherwise.

Complications that BDD may cause or be associated with include:
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Depression and other mood disorders (guilty!)
  • Anxiety disorders (not sure if this is the cause, as I have so many other sources of stress in life too)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Social phobia
  • Substance abuse
  • Low self-esteem (guilty!)
  • Social isolation
  • Difficulty attending work or school
  • Lack of close relationships
  • Unnecessary medical procedures, especially cosmetic surgery
  • Becoming housebound
Damn, I need to do something about this. Like most of the bad things I've overcome in the past, this will be another major hurdle for me, since I've lived with it for a large part of my life. Here's what I plan to do for now:
  1. Don't think too much to avoid being self-conscious.
  2. Distract myself with something that I enjoy or elevates my mood, when negative thoughts come to mind.
  3. Get enough sleep!
  4. Gradually learn to accept myself physically. I tend to let my misguided physical perceptions hinder certain activities sometimes.


cookiedonut said...

don't think bad of yourself... everyone has his/her special features... Einstein is not the most handsome person in the world, but he sure makes a difference...

you can too =D

bluesoule said...

looking at your post, u do emphasize alot on your appearance and physique. Not that its wrong, but over is not good..

Mark said...

CD: I just thought I had low self-esteem, but apparently there was a medical term for my condition. The symptoms mostly match my behaviour, so I'm not denying it. I'd rather face and overcome sometime usually, than ignore or avoid it =)

bluesoule: Actually, it's quite wrong to emphasize too much, even if you're good-looking. It just goes to show how pre-occupied we can become with our outer appearance and base our value solely on that, but there's a lot more going on for a person than just physical appearance to exude appeal or attraction. A lot of the time, we tend to forget that =)