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Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Social Media, and Self Esteem

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a ‘not so’ familiar word to the public even when it turned out to be a grave concern for medical practitioners across the world. The medical analysis of the disorder can be an interesting topic of research, but we try to observe this issue from a different point of view. BDD makes the recipient intensely focus on their appearance and body image, repeatedly checking, grooming, seeking reassurance or

judging the physical ‘imperfection’ as per toxic standards created in the showbiz world or social media.

BDD is most prominent in adolescents (American Psychiatric Association,2013) although males post-menopause above 40 and females of post menopause period too are vulnerable to this disorder. Researchers and scientists have shown their concern for this unique psychological ‘instability’ as they find social media, to be one of the most impactful reasons. Stress due to high expectations in academics and career, peer pressure and abuse,

disturbed relationships between parents or domestic complications may tend to find social media space for casual interaction for the tech-savvy young generation.

It is undeniable that, despite having all the above-mentioned factors present in life, every individual may not be the victim of this disorder. Our focus of discussion is those cases where people have surrendered to the disorder and no deliberate effort has been taken to subsidise the problem. Finding physical imperfections, being obsessed with correcting the physical ‘deformities’, or simply trying to ape the appearance of the person having admiration for, may suggest a lack of confidence in the person. Often genetic predisposition and neurobiological factors such as malfunctioning of serotonin hormone secretion in the brain can trigger many complications including low self-esteem and vice versa. Thus, they often lose perspective of their real self, accepting their appearances through social media filters. The intolerance towards casual criticism and disrupted mental peace due to the same drag the person towards the weaker corner of the mind. Some of them even take extreme steps like going through various cosmetic surgeries that eventually end up in a medical disaster. BDD was not known to be common people back in the late 20th century. Now as exposure in the social platform has been globalised, we have enormous scope to enrich ourselves with the brighter side of human creativities and not otherwise.

It is unrealistic to suggest complete isolation from the social media world; rather building one’s own self-admiration and estimation by nurturing positive qualities and characteristics, trying to be adequate with their real appearances, perceiving the desired appearances as just a perception rather than a reality may help in preventing this disorder.

BDD causes acute psychological disturbance that can be treated by professional guidance with the cooperation and understanding of sensitive, responsive, and responsible associates in building the victim's self-esteem.

Dr. Kakali Roy Chowdhury

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