Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD, is not a very well known psychiatric disorder. The disorder distorts the way a person sees their own appearance in a negative way and therefore the person may become obsessed with their perceived physical flaws. It may cause a lot of distress for a person suffering with BDD as well as their family and friends.
Because of personal experience and general knowledge about the disorder through people who suffer with BDD, I know that this disorder is difficult to understand. I have been asked by different people, including parents of children with BDD, how the best way to deal with this disorder is. If you know someone who has the symptoms of or has been diagnosed with BDD, and you are unsure of what to do or say, here are a few ways that you can deal with and try to help someone with this disorder.
To start out, it would be good to do some of your own research on this disorder. Whether it be buying a book about Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or doing an online search, try to learn as much as you can about the disorder. This will give you more knowledge of the disorder, how it affects people who have it, and different treatment options that are available. By gaining more knowledge about BDD, you will have a better understanding of what it is like for a person to have this illness. Just by doing research on BDD, you are showing the person with BDD that you care about what they are going through and then you may be able to offer more support. Try going online in mental health forums and message boards and find topics about Body Dysmorphic Disorder to see what experiences other people may have with it.
Be patient and kind. Some people with BDD may seem irrational. They made need to check their appearance in the mirror excessively and they may ask you over and over again about their appearance. A person with BDD may talk very negatively or negate any positive comments that they receive. It may be hard for you not to get frustrated, however, I feel it is best to remain calm and show patience towards the person who is suffering. Any kind of harsh words or anger towards a person with BDD may end up making them feel a lot worse about the disorder.
Be a good, non judgmental listener. It may be hard for some people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder to open up about their illness. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about the feelings they have about their appearance. If a person with BDD wants to vent to you or open up about their feelings, then it would be good to listen to what they are telling you without being critical or judgmental. This may help the BDD sufferer to feel more comfortable confiding in you and therefore may help them to be more comfortable confiding in and opening up to a mental health therapist.
If the person has not already done so, you may want to offer to help them find professional treatment. You may want to help the person look for psychologists or other mental health therapists who have knowledge and experience in treating people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. It may be hard to find a therapist who specifically treats BDD. The process of finding professional treatment may be overwhelming, so by offering to help, you may lessen some of the stress involved when trying to find the right therapist. A person with BDD may feel discouraged or they may not want to seek help on their own, so you may be able to help make the process easier.
Be accepting. Accept the person with BDD has an illness and is not just being vain. Accept that the person will have abnormal thoughts and rituals. At times, a person with BDD may feel angry and frustrated because of how BDD affects their life. Some people with BDD are unemployed and miss out on many social functions due to their illness. Accept that a person with BDD has boundaries and limitations. By being accepting, it may show that you are trying to understand the disorder.
Call the BDD sufferer or spend time with them, if possible. In severe cases of BDD, some people may not leave their home due to the fear of people seeing their perceived flaws. This may cause a person with BDD to feel isolated and alone. Show them that they are not alone and that they have your support. If the person is comfortable enough to spend time with you, try to do activities that will encourage positivity.
If you would like to help the BDD sufferer to get out of the house, offer to take a trip with them to the supermarket or a place that they choose. It may be easier for a person with BDD to go out and do something in public when someone else who supports them is by their side. If the person does not want to leave the house, try to do indoor activities, such as watching movies, playing games or any other activity that the person might enjoy. If the person is not comfortable spending time in person with you, try calling, texting or e-mailing them so that they feel less alone and more connected socially.
Encourage a person with BDD, but do not use force, threats or pressure to get them to see the way that you do. BDD may be very difficult to understand for those who do not suffer with it. However, by being loving, caring and supportive, it may do better than by pressuring someone with BDD to do things that they are very uncomfortable doing, such as going to social functions. Gradual steps to get out of their comfort zone may be more helpful to a person suffering with BDD rather than by doing something may cause a lot of anxiety and stress, like attending a party or other social event. By having more positive support, it may help to lessen the emotional distress caused by this disorder.