What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Has a friend ever come up to you, obsessed with their skin or hair that seems completely fine to you - but not to them? There’s a term for that.

What is it?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) occurs is a psychiatric condition in which someone becomes preoccupied with a slight defect in their appearance or one that doesn’t exist. In addition, concerns about hair are quite common.

What’s the situation?

I had spoken about this in a video previously, and it’s important to continue addressing it: women aren’t the only ones to suffer from BDD. In a study conducted to research how hair loss factors into BDD for both males and females, it was found that BDD is about 10 times higher in patients with complaints of hair loss. To boot, this number was highest for males.

For dermatologists, this is a new warning sign. We often diagnose patients with BDD in patients who seek out cosmetic dermatology services frequently. However, given that 30% of patients worry about hair loss when they have no significant hair disorder of prominent bald scalps, this is cause for concern too. Using questionnaires, these patients screen positive for BDD.

I often see many women who can’t accept thinning hair as part of the aging process, and they are often very anxious about this. I often try to do my best to walk them through the acceptance process, but I can honestly admit that I wouldn’t have considered the same approach to men with similar concerns before. With this new research, I’m starting to pay attention.

What needs to be done?

The most important action that needs to be taken is creating awareness. Don’t just dismiss family or friends that seem preoccupied with imaginary body defects - they could be struggling with a very real condition. Secondly, for dermatologists and doctors, referring select patients to mental health professionals is crucial. There is only so much we can do if there is really nothing we can do to physically treat a defect that isn’t there - instead, we need to ensure they are guided to accept their appearance. I hope to see more and more health professionals become aware of this, and ensure they treat men and women equally in all respects.

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