Taken from Wikipedia: "BDD is a mental disorder in which the affected person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by an imagined or minor defect in his or her physical features. The sufferer may complain of several specific features or a single feature, or a vague feature or general appearance, causing psychological distress that impairs important functioning or social aspects of life."
Panelists used the example of men in the gay community who have a preoccupation with big and lean muscles, one which drives them to spend countless hours in the gym.
Also from Wiki: "Most people wish that they could change or improve some aspect of their physical appearance; but people suffering from BDD, generally of normal or even highly attractive appearance, believe that they are so unspeakably hideous that they are unable to interact with others or function normally for fear of ridicule and humiliation about their appearance."
Panelist Elan Cohen described many of his male clients with BDD as having "ideal" body types (ripped abs, huge arms and chest, etc) who still believe themselves to be fat. Another therapist, Carly Schulman, mentioned that 90% of her BDD clients - mainly women who believed themselves to be fat - weren't actually overweight.
BDD should not be taken lightly as it seems to go hand-in-hand with depression, OCD, anxiety, and eating disorders. The panelists spoke of the frequent need to medicate clients with BDD.
So how do you recognize this condition? Some signs include:
- Compulsive mirror-checking or obsession with one's reflection
- Reassurance-seeking from loved ones
- Social withdrawal
- Frequent referencing of celebrities the person wishes to resemble
- Obsession with plastic surgery
- Someone who makes a promise or an agreement to do (or not do) a certain behavior - i.e. "Today is my day off from the gym." - and then still does it, may be suffering from BDD.
- Someone who lies to his/her family or friends about eating or exercise behaviors may be affected as well.