Body image issues are a common problem. In a society that promotes unrealistic body ideals, it is challenging to not get caught up in comparing oneself to these unrealistic standards. As a result, many individuals may experience depression, anxiety, anger and even self-loathing. In addition to affecting an individual’s view of self, poor body image may also result in avoidance of social situations and may interfere with developing healthy social and romantic relationships.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a psychological disorder that involves a misperception of one or more body areas. Individuals with BDD perceive a defect or flaw in their appearance that is either very small or nonexistent. Areas of concern often involve flaws of the face or head (e.g., hair thinning, acne, scars, redness, wrinkles, facial asymmetry, size/shape of facial features such as nose, mouth, lips, etc.). Other areas of concern may include but are not limited to genitals, breasts, buttocks, abdomen, hips, and thighs. Individuals suffering from BDD are preoccupied with the perceived defect(s) to a point where it causes clinically significant distress in several areas of functioning. They may spend excessive amounts of time checking their appearance in mirrors, putting on makeup or otherwise masking their appearance, and seeking reassurance. Individuals with BDD will often avoid social situations and romantic relationships. As a result, high levels of anxiety, depression, embarrassment, shame, and self-disgust are frequently present.