Body image problems can feature in a range of mental health conditions, including
depression, anxiety and social phobias. In the case of
body dysmorphic disorder, people can have a very
distorted perception of their body and their appearance. Mirrors and windows are
my enemy on the days when I’m having a body
dysmorphic disorder flare-up. I don’t think anyone is
100% happy with their appearance, or I’m yet to meet somebody who is. But for me, this was
just to the extreme. People use mirrors within
BDD to check their appearance in order to gather
more data or information about how bad the part that they
feel looks awful actually really is. The lowest point for me was probably the third time I tried to kill myself. I felt disgusting,
didn’t want people to see me. DR ANNEMARIE O’CONNOR:
BDD is an obsession or anxiety disorder. People with BDD are sometimes seen as narcissistic,
because what is perceived is that there is an obsession with how they look. Actually,
that’s what happens as a result of detesting how they look and their aim typically is just
to look acceptable and normal. BDD is a shame-based disorder. A lot of people
sit in silence with it, because they don’t know that it is actually an illness, and that
it’s a treatable illness. DAVE CHAWNER:
For some people, negative body image can be linked to disordered eating. I was sectioned under the
Mental Health Act because of anorexia. Then going from a size 4 to a size 20, using food as a compulsive
overeating disorder to kind of numb myself in a different way. The commonality between
BDD and eating disorders is disordered eating. So that the eating potentially
is disrupted. Now, a lot of people with BDD have a preoccupation and distress about an
aspect of their appearance that doesn’t have anything to do with eating. But for those
that have an appearance problem that is, for example, their whole body shape, then that
quite often includes disordered eating. JULIETTE BURTON:
There’s blurred lines between my eating disorders and my body dysmorphic disorder. They do shift and it’s hard to
tell the difference sometimes. But it is useful, so useful, for me to have
that language around which to talk about both these separate conditions. As well as, you
know, depression and anxiety are still things that I battle with regularly. For me, my eating disorder was
about addiction, obsession and control. But I couldn’t see what other
people could see, and at the time, I didn’t
even realise I’d got a problem. DAVE CHAWNER ON STAGE:
Let’s be honest. If you saw me in the street, you’re not going to think,
“Phwoar! Alpha male!” (LAUGHTER) You’re much more likely
to think, “Oh, vegetarian!” ROB WILSON: A body image problem can
become extremely dangerous. In the case of anorexia and bulimia, it may lead to very serious
long-term health problems. And in the case of body dysmorphic disorder, it has one of the highest suicide
rates of any psychiatric problem. So what was your
kind of breakthrough moment? Somebody said to me, “Let’s try a month where
you live as if your body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health problem rather
than being a physical problem. So just pretend for a month that there’s not actually something wrong with you – there’s something wrong with you mind. And see how it goes.” So I was like,
“I guess I don’t have anything to lose.” And then having the
really intense exposure therapy, working on my anxiety.
That was the big change for me. DR ROB WILLSON:
Exposure therapy means deliberately facing your fears in a way that’s therapeutic. To help someone stop
their compulsions, the most important thing for them is first to consider
the effect of these strategies and how much they may in fact be worsening their preoccupation with their appearance. DAVE CHAWNER: I think one of the
breakthrough moments for me for getting help was I slumped into depression,
and it became my normality. And as soon as I started to think
that I could get rid of that, that I could get back to being the person that I enjoyed, and actually start having fun again,
that made recovery seem exciting and enjoyable. Rather than something that
I was losing the anorexia, I was actually gaining my life back. JULIETTE BURTON: Sometimes I tell myself that I actually have a great love and respect for my body. It’s really helpful to calm myself down, to remind
myself of how much I’ve put it through and how it’s survived.
It’s sprung back and forth. Sometimes if I can’t adore it, love it, at least I can respect it. ALANAH BAGWELL: What’s helped me most is
having support from family and friends. And that isn’t necessarily them
understanding where I’m coming from, because mental health problems
are really often irrational and won’t make sense to them,
but just being there for me and trying to still listen and sort of
validate the way I’m feeling. DAVE CHAWNER: Recovery takes time.
And some days are better than others. But if you are struggling, no
matter how bad you feel right now, there is help out there.
You just have to ask. Thank you so much, and have a good one.
And goodbye! Thank you, guys. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

17 thoughts on “Can body image problems affect our mental health? | BBC Tomorrow’s World”

  1. I'm ugly. If god was real he wouldn't made me ugly because good look is all I want and need. Suddenly there is no god above.

  2. Man, why must teens have to feel all this crap? I THINK MY BODY AND MY FACE ARE UGLY! My arms aren’t skinny enough and so are my legs. I am so disappointed in myself

  3. I've suffered BDD, OCD hair pulling, self harm ( cutting) , joint/ muscle pain since I can remember. Been on AD since giving birth to my son 34 yrs ago.I am now 54 years old. I have seen Doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists galore and so here's my question. Why has no one been able to officially diagnose me with these problems or has ever had the common sense to refer me to research programs or experts that can really help? If I was a child today, I would be diagnosed with every trendy acronym under the sun..

  4. I have a disformity and people treat me different because of it. Doesn't matter how nice I am and how happy I try to be. This goes beyond our mental state. It's bad when others make you seem different even when you try not to focus on it. 🤷

  5. i hate it when they say its treatable cuz its not you might be a little more confident but you cant change the way others think about you

  6. This is awful to suffer from. I've had this since I was quite young. I look in the mirror constantly..but I avoid photographs like the plague. If someone sends me a photograph of myself I get extremely angry and then I drop to an extreme depression.

    Has effected my social life ..I will change my outfit ten times ..then will cancel my plans and stay in 😂😂 oy ve!

  7. I feel this way deeply. I have gotten so deep into this that I have asked my mom if I could have rhinoplasty. I'm only 14. I have constantly wanted to change my appearance. Obsessively. I exercise now a lot. I was also diagnosed with Scoliosis earlier in February and shortly after had surgery to correct it in March. This only elevated my body dysmorphia. People tend to think your self-centred just because you always notice those little things and it drives you to insanity it feels sometimes. I wish I could combat this quicker, but it's a never ending thing in this time of my life. I really hope I can overcome it and be happy with myself. I play with makeup all the time with the excuse that I'm doing it for fun. But all of that is a lie, simply to cover up the fact that I want a smaller nose, or different colour eyes, (contact lenses) etc. I don't know if many younger people are here, but man, all I can say is it is so difficult dealing with this at only 14.

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