Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. It is a combination of the thoughts, feelings, attitude, expectations and perception you have of and toward your body. Body image changes on a constant basis and for most people it fluctuates between positive and negative perceptions.
For people with a poor body image, their thoughts and feelings about their body are constantly negative. People who experience difficulties with their body image may have a distorted perception of their shape, believe that only other people are attractive and that their body size or shape is a sign of personal failure, feel self-conscious and anxious about their body, and they may feel uncomfortable and awkward in their body.
People with negative body image have a greater likelihood of developing an eating disorder and are more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem, and obsessions with weight loss.
There are a number of psychological disorders that frequently co-exist with BDD such as Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Anxiety Disorder, and personality disorders. Assessment of co-existing problems is important in order to diagnose and also possibly treat these co-existing conditions alongside BDD.
Psychological disorders that frequently co-occur with BDD and that we treat include:
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): individuals experience persistent, disturbing, and intrusive thoughts, better known as obsessions, which create anxiety. A behaviour, also known as a ritual or compulsion, is then performed in an attempt to decrease the anxiety.
Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder): a persistent fear of social or performance situations in which a person worries they will be negatively evaluated by others.
Major Depressive Disorder: persistent low mood marked by feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, and increased irritability. A person is less motivated to do the things they used to enjoy, and may have disturbed sleep, and either increases or decreases in appetite.
Dermatillomania (Compulsive Skin Picking): a recurrent and often uncontrollable urge to repetitively pick at one's skin.
Personality Disorders or Interpersonal Difficulties: an individual differs from other people in terms of how they think, perceive, feel or relate to others. Changes in how a person feels and distorted beliefs about other people can lead to unusual and unhelpful behaviours, which can be very distressing and may also upset other people.
Olfactory Reference Syndrome (ORS): a persistent concern and intrusive thoughts that one may be emitting a foul or unpleasant odour.
Low Self Esteem / Self Worth: self-esteem is used to describe a person’s overall sense of their worth or value. Low self-esteem exists when a person holds certain beliefs about themselves, their appearance, their abilities or their emotions. Low self-esteem or self-worth is the belief that you are not good enough or defective in some way.
Bulimia Nervosa: an individual has episodes of over-eating (bingeing) followed by behaviours used to compensate for this over-eating (purging). Purging behaviours most commonly used include extreme dieting, vomiting, excessive exercising or taking laxatives or diet pills.
Anorexia Nervosa: an eating disorder in which people keep their body weight as low as possible. People with anorexia usually do this by restricting the amount of food they eat. Additionally they may use other behaviours like vomiting after meals, exercising excessively or taking laxatives or diet pills.
Binge Eating Disorder: an eating disorder where a person feels compelled to overeat on a regular basis. People who binge eat consume very large quantities of food over a short period of time.