With the news that cosmetic beauty clinics will now screen customers for mental health problems ahead of undergoing procedures, one particular condition has been highlighted.
Body dysmorphic disorder is one condition that beauty clinics are being trained to spot and refer patients to NHS facilities where necessary.
What is body dysmorphic disorder?
According to the NHS, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about 'flaws' in their appearance. Often, these perceived flaws are unnoticeable to others.
Having BDD does not mean you are vain or self-obsessed. It can be very upsetting and have a big impact on your life.
BDD can seriously affect your daily life, including your work, social life and relationships. BDD can also lead to depression, self-harm and even thoughts of suicide.
Who can be diagnosed with BDD?
People of any age can have BDD, but it is most common in teenagers and young adults. It affects both men and women.
What are the symptoms?
People with BDD tend to:
- Worry a lot about a specific area of their body (particularly the face)
- Spend a lot of time comparing their looks with other people's
- Look at themselves in mirrors a lot or avoid mirrors altogether
- Go to a lot of effort to conceal their flaws – for example, by spending a long time combing their hair, applying make-up or choosing clothes
- Pick at their skin to make it 'smooth'
How is BDD treated?
Mild symptoms of BDD can be treated with talking therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Patients with moderate symptoms can also be offered a type of antidepressant medication called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
The NHS also recommends joining a local support group or seeking advice from mental health organisations such as Anxiety UK and Mind.
Some people also find it helpful to get together with friends or family, or to try doing something new to improve their mental wellbeing.
It may also be helpful to try some relaxation and breathing exercises to relieve stress and anxiety.