Body image is a huge health topic nowadays. The way we see ourselves and imagine how we look is not usually very positive. It’s so common; people don’t even realize when they actually hate their bodies.
Dieting, exercising all the time, counting calories and feeling guilty every time you have a donut is so socially acceptable, people don’t think there is anything wrong with this constant pressure to look pretty and fit.
Most people have something they don’t like about their bodies. But worrying too much and obsessing over fixing the “problem” is not healthy. This is body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD.
Patients think about their real or perceived flaws for hours every single day. They can't control it and don't believe anyone who tells them that they look fine. The result is depression, anxiety, low self-esteem.
Diagnosing BDD often involves a series of medical and psychological tests, including a physical exam, lab tests and psych evaluation, according to Mayo Clinic. But there are certain signs that can indicate if BDD is a condition you may have.
You look yourself in the mirror any chance you get
People with BDD are constantly looking for reflective surfaces to see if their hair is right, their pants are not making them look fatter than they are and of the flaws they see on their bodies are covered. They may also ask others about the way they look. They will also try to change, or “fix” their appearance every single time they see their reflection.
You avoid mirrors at all times
The other extreme end is not looking in the mirror at all. This avoidance behavior is also part of BDD because people see nothing short of a fat monster in the mirror. People actually see themselves as ugly and fat. People with BDD may think their skin is old and wrinkled even though they are teenagers.
You exercise every spare minute you have
People with BDD may work out all the time to “fix” the issue they think they have. Exercise addiction often starts with the remarkable feeling you have when you push yourself hard to get to the next level and see the results of your sweat. Combine that with friends who constantly tell you how fit and healthy you look, and you have a recipe for disaster. All of a sudden you wake up at 4 a.m. to do cardio training before work, weight lifting in your lunch break and Zumba classes before you get home. You are constantly tired but find artificial ways to boost your energy such as drinking coffee and energy drinks all the time.
You can’t think about anything else for more than 5 minutes
Dropping a few pounds or the new exercise you will try because you just can’t seem to lose weight is always on your mind. Even your favorite show can’t distract you anymore. Or, your friends call you but you somehow can’t focus because you’re too busy masterminding your plan to make your skin glow again.
You compare your body part to everyone else’s
Let’s say you think you have a big nose. All of a sudden that is the only body part you notice in everyone else. You make a new acquaintance but you stare at his or her nose while shaking hands. BDD can have a soul-destroying effect. You feel you’ll never be like everyone else and that every minor “flaw” you have is the only thing other people see in you.
You change your clothes excessively
People with BDD may use excessive camouflage to hide their perceived defect – heavy make- up perhaps, or a change of posture, a particular hair style or heavy clothes. They may also feel a constant urge to change what they’re wearing dozens of times a day because nothing makes them look good enough.