It’s not uncommon for teenagers to stress about their appearance. Peer pressure, fashion trends and bodily changes all tend to make teens very self-aware of how they look. Unfortunately, this self-consciousness can sometimes reach a debilitating level, leading to social isolation, withdrawal and anxiety. This extreme condition is called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). How do you know if you teen has this mental health condition? Here are some signs to look out for.
An individual living with BDD is constantly preoccupied with what they perceive as a physical flaw. They might try to cover up this perceived flaw, disguise, touch or pick at it. It’s likely that a person living with BDD will repeatedly measure or touch the perceived defect, becoming fixated upon any changes in their body. Furthermore, they may constantly seek reassurance that this ‘defect’ is not visible or obvious.
As a result of their negative perception of their appearance, individuals living with BDD often develop low self-esteem issues. This can lead to social withdrawal, feeling anxious around others and isolation, evidenced through avoiding usual activities or social interactions. In extreme cases, a person living with BDD might even refuse to leave the house or contemplate suicide.
Sometimes a person living with BDD might not stop at simply covering up their flaw, but try to take extreme action to remove it altogether. This can result in constantly visiting medical professionals such as dermatologists or plastic surgeons for advice or even having some sort of surgery performed.
If your teen exhibits these symptoms, it’s important to not simply interpret them as a teenage “phase.” Instead, BDD is a serious mental health condition that can have lasting effects if not treated appropriately by a mental health professional. Be sure to help your teen seek the support they need for recovery.
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