For the millions of people across the globe with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)—a mental health condition that causes obsession with perceived physical flaws—the pandemic has created an especially challenging set of circumstances.
Writing for NBC News, Medill School of Journalism alum Gwen Aviles reports on how being stuck at home in front of Zoom calls, mirrors, and social media has exacerbated the symptoms of many of those suffering from BDD. Dr. Katharine Phillips, a psychiatry professor at Weill Cornell Medicine, tells Aviles that “for those who don’t currently have BDD but are at risk of developing it, the stress of the current situation might trigger the onset of full-fledged BDD.”
Despite these challenges, BDD patients are finding new ways to persevere thanks to support groups and increasing public recognition of an often-ignored condition. “People with BDD aren’t just a bunch of vanity cases,” one person with BDD tells Aviles. “We need promises and we need to know and understand that a good life can be had, that we can have a loving partner, that we can be happy.”
Aviles is a 2018 graduate of the Medill School of Journalism, a Pulitzer Center Campus Consortium partner. She is currently a PhD student at Columbia University and a journalist who focuses on Latino politics, education, and arts and culture. Previously a reporter at NBC News' diversity verticals, Aviles has also published articles in a variety of outlets, including HuffPost and Forbes.
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