Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD, is a psychiatric disorder that is not as well known as other mental disorders. A person with BDD may obsess about their appearance in a negative way so much that it may cause a lot of distress for the sufferer and other people who are involved in the sufferer’s life.
Some people who have a severe case of BDD may be unemployed, unable to leave their homes due to their imagined or perceived flaws. They may hide away in a bedroom and stay there most of the day to avoid human contact. The disorder may also result in suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts as well. It is a serious disorder that should be taken just as seriously as any other medical condition or illness.
If you know someone who has Body Dysmorphic Disorder, you may not know what or what not to say. Here are some things I feel that should not be said to someone with BDD. I feel as though these statements may make a BDD sufferer feel worse. While a person may say these things without ill intention, I feel it may do more harm than good to hear.
1. “There are other people out there worse off than you.” To you, the BDD sufferer may look normal or even attractive, but to the sufferer, the flaw that they are imagining is very real. This may cause a lot of stress for the sufferer. A person who has BDD may become absorbed in thoughts of their appearance, so much so, that it may affect employment, family, social lives and relationships. This may cause a deep depression and a feeling of hopelessness about the future. If you say this to a BDD sufferer, they may feel that you are not taking them seriously and that you are not understanding that they are experiencing a lot of mental pain and anguish.
2. “Stop focusing on the negative, think positive.” A person with BDD will have a very hard time not focusing on the negative. Their brain may be programmed in a way to only think negatively and obsess about their flaws. It can be extremely difficult for a BDD sufferer to think positive, especially when they are having a bad BDD attack.
3. “Just snap out of it or get over it.” BDD is not something that can just be snapped out of. In fact, there is no cure for BDD, so while a sufferer may be able to control his/her symptoms, there may be a chance that they will not have total control of it throughout their lifetime.
4. “Looks don’t matter, it’s what’s inside that counts.” This may seem like a nice thing to say, however, while you may feel that way, a person with BDD does not. To a BDD sufferer, their appearance may mean almost everything to them. The issues that they have with their appearance become a part of their life. Also in today’s society, it does seem like looks matter to a certain extent. So, this makes it even harder for a person with BDD to be convinced that looks do not matter.
5. “Why aren’t you working? Are you just being lazy? You should try and look for a job.” If the person with BDD is not currently employed, you may wonder why or what it is that keeps them from working. People with severe BDD are not lazy, they are ill. Just like when a person has the flu and may take time off from work, a person with BDD may need to take time off or they may not be able to work at all. BDD is a serious illness and should be treated as such. Mental illness may cause physical symptoms as well. Also, it may be hard for a person with severe BDD to concentrate and focus on the job.