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Am I Pretty?

This morning one of the stories discussed was about a little girl who constantly asks her parents if she is pretty. Her parents are concerned because they fear she is becoming too obsessed about her image because she asks after brushing her hair, getting dressed, etc. We had people call in sharing similar concerns about family members that are constantly concerned about body-image.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder, sometimes shortened to BDD is a body-image disorder where people suffer from constant and intrusive negative thoughts about their body. Everyone has something about their body that they don’t like, whether it’s a crooked nose or big feet, but it usually doesn’t ruin their day. The most common body parts people with this disorder find flaws in are their skin, hair, chest, nose, or stomach. The flaws are usually small, or may not even be real at all, but the person can’t stop obsessing about it. BDD usually starts to develop during teenage years and affects men and women equally.

It is not known what causes BDD, but genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role. Some common symptoms of BDD include obsessing over body-image for several hours at a time, sometimes lasting a full day. It is not uncommon for sufferers to miss work or school because they become so stressed about their obsessions. It may become severe enough to the point of suicidal thoughts. People with this disorder tend to resort to repetitive behaviors that give them temporary relief. Some of these behaviors are camouflaging their body with large amounts of makeup, large hats and clothes, comparing their body to others, constantly checking or avoiding mirrors, skin picking, and excessive grooming and exercise. Some people go as far as getting plastic surgery to fix their flaws.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder can be treated with therapy and medication. Therapy helps the patient learn about their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors as well healthy ways to deal with constant urges, such as picking skin or checking mirrors. It also teaches them how to socialize with others since they sometimes avoid leaving the house because of negative thoughts. Medication is also used in combination with therapy, and in extreme cases hospitalization may be required.

This information was found from Anxiety and Depression Association of America and Mayo Clinic.

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