Body Dysmorphia In Men

More than 200,000 Americans have reported and been diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder or Body Dysmorphia (BDD).

BDD is a chronic mental health disorder where an individual hyper-focuses on a physical flaw, whether real or imagined. Someone living with BDD will find themselves exhibiting obsessive compulsive behaviors regarding their appearance, often spending hours a day worrying about the way they look.

Those with BDD feel so ashamed of their own appearance that they do not want to be seen. Sometimes, people with BDD will spend thousands of dollars to “fix” their perceived flaw and yet never feeling satisfied. It affects the way they interact with others and causes great distress to those with BDD.

BDD can affect boys and girls from as early as 6 years old and may continue for years or be life long. BDD is most of the time closely linked with an individual’s body image and self-esteem.

This week, kfor.com published an article describing a man’s struggles with body dysmorhpia, which led to further issues like bulimia and anorexia and suicidal thoughts. In the article the man, Brian Cuban, states that he felt stigma against getting help because “eating disorders are considered a ‘women’s issue’”.

This is idea that men do not experience BDD and other associated body image disorders is a huge problem today. Even while Googling treatment facilities for BDD, most of the descriptions cover only women, sticking to female pronouns like she/her.

According to one study, 43% of men are unsatisfied with their overall appearance, making men just as susceptible to body image disorders as women. A study from 1997 revealed that while women with BDD focused mostly on breasts and legs, men focused highly on genitals, height, and excessive body hair. It has been 18 years since this study was released and it has been further revealed that those with BDD can focus on any part of their body. Below is a quote from another study from the same year:

“ Although men were as likely as women to seek nonpsychiatric medical and surgical treatment, women were more likely to receive such care. Men, however, were as likely as women to have cosmetic surgery. Although the clinical features of BDD appear remarkably similar in women and men, there are some differences, some of which reflect those found in the general population, suggesting that cultural norms and values may influence the content of BDD symptoms.”

This news is still relevant today and the research surrounding BDD in men is lacking. As a culture, we must create an open and inclusive space where everyone feels comfortable to seek help. This begins by acknowledging that we have a problem and by making visible paths to healing, such as therapy, support groups, and spaces for open communication.

Mental Health And Young Children

A research study released in 2010 by the University of Massachusetts claims that nearly 1 million children have been misdiagnosed with ADHD. According to the study, they suggests that this occurs because the child is usually the youngest and least mature student in its class. If this happens with one learning disability, imagine the numbers if we looked at mental health in children across the board.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center wrote an article stating that gifted and talented children are often misdiagnosed with mental health disorders due to their personality traits being misunderstood. Students with high IQ’s and high reasoning skills face several challenges with school and home life. This includes boredom, disregard for rules and traditions, depression, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness. Gifted and talented children are keenly aware of the world around them, leading them to being moody. This is a trait seen in those with depression and often leads to a diagnosis in children with these traits.

High school students at Mountain Green high School in Lakewood, Colorado have been writing books that help teach adolescents ways to communicate how they feel. According to an article written by Nelson Garcia, the students hoped to combat adolescent suicide by giving young kids tools to talk about their feelings without feeling embarrassed or ashamed. The book titled “Dear Parents, From Kids” has a workbook and coloring pages.

With adults becoming more educated about mental health, it is important to spread this change to teens and young adults. Having an open line of communication is important and making children feel comfortable talking about their feelings from an early age will increase diagnosis and treatment options.

Depression knows no age. Although mood swings may be attributed to normal hormone changes, if these mood swings keep your child from completing everyday tasks or it lasts more than two weeks at a time, it may be time to talk to a health professional. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 100,000 children ages 10 to 14 die by suicide each year. This is a staggering and often shocking number. Being aware of the risks and reality of childhood depression is key in changing this number.