They often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what one person sees as beautiful may not be perceived the same way by another individual. We all have different opinions of what is beautiful and what is ugly; a lot of the time people have this idea that something about them can always be improved.

Even the most confident and classically attractive person, will most likely want to be able to change one small detail about themselves. However, for most of us, these ideas do not consume every aspect of our lives and we are able to prioritise other things over our physical appearance, such as work, relationships and family can all be put before improving how we look.

The crippling effect of BDD

However, for men and women who suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, those thoughts can never simply be put aside. Every blemish, scar, split-end and bit of excess fat, becomes perpetuated from a simple imperfection to a grotesque characteristic, which they are all anyone else sees when they look at them. In severe cases an individual may not have any flaws whatsoever, picture the ideal looking man or woman in your mind, what our body-obsessed society would call the ideal body. They have the perfect skin, they are a perfect size, and there is not a single hair out of place. That same person could look at what you are picturing and think that they are hideous. No amount of make-up or exercise can change how they see themselves.

Neither would reassurance from anyone close to them, that they are in fact beautiful and should be happy with the way they look. Instead, they are forever locked in this mindset, where they are constantly dissatisfied with how they look and are ashamed to go out in public for fear of being seen.

Their body becomes a trap that they can not escape from and serves as a constant reminder of everything they have begun to hate about themselves.

Which can lead to

  • Depression.
  • Thoughts of self-harm.
  • Thoughts of suicide.

This demonstrates that BDD goes beyond a superficial need to look good, rather it can cause men and women to feel such hatred for their body that they want to get some release by physically dismantling what they see as a hideous form.

Not forgetting that they become so this disorder causes them to feel so alienated from everyone around them, making those individuals lose all sense of self-worth that they feel taking their own life is the next logical step, this disorder can potentially take lives and is not to be taken lightly.

According to the NHS causes of BDD may be from genetics, if you have a relative with the same condition; as well as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder, then there is a chance it can be passed down to you or another member of our family.

Other causes, that are suggested by the NHS, can be from a chemical imbalance in the brain, which causes you to think differently when interpreting situations to yourself and other people.

A third cause may be from a traumatic experience in the past. This may be something you remember, such as being called ugly at school or teased about your size in the playground. It may even be something deeply rooted in your mind, a past experience so traumatising that you have blocked it out, but subconsciously is still affecting the way you see yourself.

The NHS offers various treatments for BDD starting with cognitive behavioural therapy, which will help you identify what triggers you to think the way you do about your body and help change the way your perception of how you look. During the sessions, if your doctor feels that the symptoms are more severe, they will most likely prescribe an antidepressant called fluoxetine which is estimated to take up to 12 weeks to start improving your state of mind.

If you believe you or someone close to you suffers from Body Dysmorphic Disorder get in touch with your local GP so they can start your treatment,

Nobody should be a prisoner of their own body and mind. You do not have to live, being tortured by what you see in the mirror, being tortured and disgusted by this deceitful image looking back at you.

There are ways to go forward, break free of your internal prison and start to appreciate the attributes you have, rather than the ones you feel you should have.

You are not helpless, when it comes to your body and mind they are not two entities looking to take apart who you are. You have the power to take back that control.