What is the link between Ugliness and Depression?

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In this blog we will talk about ugliness and depression, and also cover what research says, what body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is, signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, causes of BDD, tips to deal and address feelings of ugliness,  and also answer few frequently asked questions related to the topic. 

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What is the link between Ugliness and Depression?

Well, if you feel that you are ugly, imperfect, and not pretty enough, you might be a victim of high and unrealistic standards of beauty that are set by the society we reside in and the media we consume on a daily basis, it can lead to depression and other mental health issues

If you are someone who feels they are ugly on a regular basis, you are more likely to suffer from mental health issues like depression, body dysmorphic disorder, etc. 

If you feel you are not pretty enough due to the unrealistic beauty standards of society then that does not mean that you have depression or body dysmorphia, but if this feeling is too consistent, regular, and something that bothers you a lot, it can be a sign of an underlying mental-health related issue. 

We will explore it all in further sections. 

High Beauty standards and Depression

“If inner beauty is all that really mattered, then the gym wouldn’t be so crowded and the library never so empty”

The media and society have set such unrealistic beauty standards for all of us ranging from the thin waist, long black hair to skin texture that it becomes impossible to achieve in real life.

If you’ve ever voiced your own concerns about not being beautiful enough, then chances are that the other person must have replied with phrases like “ you are your own kind of beautiful”. While they say it with a pure intention, in reality, these phrases just add to the existing hurt.

No matter how much we try, we can never deny the bitter truth that pretty privilege has always existed in our society. Just take the example of Helen of Troy. Even in today’s modern world, it continues to exist in job selection, groom or bride selection, or choosing a person for any role, their looks do affect our judgment.

If you’re not a part of the so-called beautiful-looking people of our society, it’s natural for you to feel isolated and left out. These feelings can sometimes overpower you and may lead to depression.

What does the research say about feeling ugly and depressed?

Katharine A. Philips conducted a study on body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). BDD is a mental health condition in which you can’t stop obsessing about one or more perceived flaws in your appearance, even if they’re small or invisible to others.

This disease can result in social isolation (including being confined to one’s home), occupational difficulties, unneeded cosmetic surgery, and even suicide. Depression appears to be the most usually associated psychiatric condition with BDD.

What is Body Dysmorphia? 

One of the top comments in the ‘I am ugly’ debate is “don’t let these remarks get to you”.  People say this as if it was so easy for the struggling person to just let these remarks go unnoticed. 

It is demeaning and minimizes their struggle. People lose confidence because they feel ugly. They shut themselves from life’s beautiful experiences like having a relationship, having a first kiss, going for their dreams because they believe that nobody will ever choose them. 

It doesn’t matter to them what the “truth” is, because they have constructed their own truth in their head, that is, that they are ugly. This thought becomes so deeply engraved in their mind, that they disregard any experience, thought, or person that suggests otherwise.

The person may also form a distorted perception of weight. They may go on an intensive diet that can impact their health. No matter how much weight they lose, it is never enough. They start to equate thinness with self-worth. This is known as anorexia nervosa.

Another common pattern observed among body dysmorphic people is following a binge-and-purge eating pattern. This is called bulimia nervosa. In this condition, people eat too much food and then feel guilt and shame. They use laxatives to induce vomiting, this helps them to get rid of the guilt of eating.

Signs and symptoms of BDD 

●  Being obsessed with a perceived defect in one’s appearance that others don’t even notice or think is trivial

●  A strong conviction that you have a physical flaw that makes you look ugly in other people’s eyes.

●  A belief that others make a nasty comment or mock you because of your appearance.

●  Performing difficult-to-control activities, such as frequent checking of the mirror, grooming, or skin picking, in order to fix or hide the perceived fault.

●  Using styling, cosmetics, or clothing to cover up perceived defects

●  Comparing your looks to that of others on a regular basis

●  Frequently seeking affirmation from others about your appearance

●  Having a tendency to be a perfectionist

●  Looking for cosmetic procedures but not getting the results you want

●  Keeping out of social situations

Preoccupation with your looks, as well as obsessive thoughts and repetitive actions, can be unwelcome, difficult to manage, and time-consuming, causing significant distress or problems in your social life, work, education, and other areas of functioning.

You can be fixated on one or more parts of your body. The aspect on which you concentrate may shift over time. 

The following are the most prevalent characteristics that people obsess over and think they are ugly:

●  The nose, complexion, wrinkles, acne, and other imperfections on the face

●  Hair issues such as thinning, baldness, and appearance

●  The look of the skin and veins

●  Size of the breasts

●  Size and tone of muscles

●  Genitalia

Body dysmorphic disorder is viewed in a variety of ways. You may understand that your ideas about your perceived shortcomings are exaggerated or untrue, or you may believe that they are probably accurate, or you may be certain that they are definitely true. 

The more certain you are in your views, the more hardship and disturbance you may encounter in your life.

Muscle dysmorphia is another type of obsession that a person has with their physique being too tiny or not muscular enough. It affects mainly men.

What are the causes of body dysmorphic disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder’s causation is something that is still not very certain or clear.

According to the experts, it can be caused due to the malfunctioning of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that help nerve cells in the brain send messages to each other. 

This notion is supported by the fact that patients with body dysmorphic disorder are more likely to have additional mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, etc.

Other factors that could impact or induce the onset of body dysmorphic disorder include:

●  Having been exposed to traumatic events or emotional struggle as a child.

●  Low self-confidence.

●  Judgment and criticism from parents and others who were dissatisfied with the individual’s appearance.

●  Peer pressure and a society that values physical appearance as a measure of beauty and worth

How can we diagnose BDD?

It becomes difficult to diagnose body dysmorphic disorder because people suffering from it have so much inbuilt guilt about the disorder that they hardly come forward on their own. 

They may fear judgment from friends, family, and society. So, they continue to struggle o their own trying to fix their body and appearance.

If in case, they decide to seek help then a healthcare provider will do a physical examination and ask about your personal and family medical history. If the physician feels that the person is suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, they may send them to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

The attitude, conduct, and symptoms of the person are assessed by these mental health professionals. Body dysmorphic disorder is commonly diagnosed when a person:

●  Is obsessed with a flaw or imperfections in their physical appearance.

●  Because they are self-conscious about their appearance, they perform repetitive acts (grooming, checking their appearance in a mirror).

●  They are unable to perform at work or at home due to their preoccupation with their appearance.

Body dysmorphic disorder and Depression

Body dysmorphia, or simply put continuously having the feeling that I am ugly can increase social isolation. The person becomes so obsessed with achieving the perfect and unrealistic beauty standards that they cut off connections from their family members. 

They may refuse dinner invitations and spend time at home checking themselves out in front of the mirror and assessing their looks. They may also go into financial problems because these people spent an excessive amount of money in consuming cosmetics and plastic surgeries. 

Constant comparison of their looks with other people takes a hit on their self-esteem and self-worth. It also decreases their confidence level, so these people stop taking part in various activities.

For example, skipping a job interview because you feel that you will be rejected because of your looks. This increase in social isolation decreases confidence and self-esteem can all lead to depression. In severe cases, the person may also become suicidal.

Treatment of Body Dysmorphic disorder

●  Psychotherapy and Counselling : Therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy involves altering a person’s thinking (cognition), feelings and behaviour. They fix their thoughts about the fault and reduce their obsessive behaviours as a result of treatment.

●  Exposure and response prevention: ERP employs thoughts and real-life experiences to demonstrate to the person that their perception of themselves is inaccurate.

●  Medication: Body dysmorphic disorder can be treated with antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

●  Group/family therapy: Family support is essential for successful treatment in group and family therapy. Family members learn to recognize and understand the signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder.

Tips to help you address your concerns of ugliness, depression, body dysmorphia, and eating-related issues

  • Get rid of societal expectations- You need to realize that the beauty standards set by the media are highly unrealistic. 

The celebrities and models you aspire to look like attain their look after hours of makeup, filter, and editing. And even then, you find someone criticizing their looks. 

So stop drawing comparisons and realize that there always be someone ready to find faults in you- but that’s on them, not you.

  • Consider why looking beautiful is important to you- If you already feel that you are not beautiful, every rejection that you may face in life only strengthens your perception.

Soon, societal validation becomes the only reason for which you want to look beautiful. While it is natural to desire some form of validation, it is only worth recognizing that with physical appearance other things matter too.

  • Spotlight effect- The spotlight effect is a phenomenon where you feel like you are constantly under a spotlight where everyone is noticing your every move. 

You’re the main character of your story but realize that so is everyone else. You obsess over having perfect hair, body, and skin whereas, in reality, other people might even not notice these factors that much. Taking the spotlight off yourself in your head can allow you to freely express yourself.

  • Work on yourself in therapy: Therapy will help you address your concerns on a much deeper level. 
  • Join a support group with people who go through similar concerns 

Conclusion

We explored and answered the question “What is the link between Ugliness and Depression?”, understood the link between beauty standards and depression, body dysmorphia, treatment of BDD, and tips to help you. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): What is the link between Ugliness and Depression?

How does depression affect your looks?

Because the chemicals connected with depression can inhibit your body from mending inflammation in cells, long-term depression has catastrophic repercussions on your skin. These hormones impair sleep, which can be seen on our faces as large, puffy eyes and a dull or lifeless complexion.

Why do I feel so unattractive?

People with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) believe that certain features of their bodies are unattractive. BDD patients spend hours focusing on what they believe is wrong with their appearance. They inspect, fix, cover-up, or inquire about their appearance numerous times throughout the day. They concentrate on flaws that others consider unimportant.

How do you accept that you’re not pretty?

Beauty comes with confidence. You may feel more self-assured if you wear clothes you like or have a stylish new haircut. The way you hold your body and display yourself to others is affected by your self-confidence, which can make you appear and feel more attractive.

Is your ugliness affecting your life?

If you feel you are not a good-looking person and your looks are affecting your life, you need to understand that these are negative thoughts stemming from low self-esteem, self-worth, and other issues. You need to understand how these thoughts are affecting every aspect of your life. You have to work on your feelings about yourself, accept your looks, ignore what society and media say about beauty, and focus on your own happiness. 

Are there any bright sides to being ugly?

Yes, there are bright sides of being ugly or not pretty enough according to societal expectations. You need to understand that people who are your friends are your real friends and see beyond the outer beauty of definition, people are often too nice to “conventional beauty” and it is difficult to understand if they like you for you or they like you for your beauty. 

How does depression affect your looks?

Depression can affect you on so many levels that you might not even realize. People who suffer from depression often report skin-related issues due to neurochemical issues that often affect your looks. Sleep-related issues are quite common in depression and can often be seen on the face like dark circles, puffy eyes, dull complexion, etc.

References

7 Ways to Handle those I’m So Ugly Days

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/why-am-i-so-ugly#practice-self-compassion

Being/feeling ugly seems to be the source of all my problems

https://healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/seeking-support/helping-yourself-and-others/online-forums/young-people/being-feeling-ugly-seems-to-be-the-source-of-all-my-problems-

Body dysmorphic disorder-Symptoms and causes https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353938

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