'Snapchat dysmorphia' has social media users seeking plastic surgery

Desiree Burns
August 7, 2018

Body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is classified by the NHS as an anxiety disorder characterised by a person worrying excessively about their appearance.

The trend was portrayed by doctors in the Boston University School of Medicine's Department of Dermatology in an article showing up in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

The thought behind their research is that by heavily editing our appearance online, social media users are feeling the need to be flawless and are losing touch with reality through the use of filters, which seemingly make everyone look ideal.

Engeln described people who spend too much time worrying about their appearance as "beauty sick". It's a mirror that travels with you everywhere. However now, they're utilizing applications to see what they'd look like.

Everyone seems to look ideal on Snapchat.

Researchers have drawn links between young people's heavy use of social media (defined as spending more than two hours a day on it) and poor mental health, suggesting they were more likely to report psychological distress including anxiety and depression.

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"Our society is becoming more and more preoccupied, obsessed with social media and images and photographs and what we look like", Vashi said.

Ten years ago, a teenager might have come into a plastic surgery clinic clutching a photo of their favorite celebrity, professionally Photoshopped to centerfold-level perfection.

"The pervasiveness of these filtered images can take a toll on one's self esteem, make one feel inadequate for not looking a certain way in the real world, and may even act as a trigger and lead to body dysmorphic disorder", the piece adds.

Though BDD can be treated with therapy and medication, about one fourth of people with the disorder have attempted suicide, according to a 2007 study, and many more have experienced suicidal thoughts.

While various experts ranging from plastic surgeons to psychologists have cautioned against Snapchat dysmorphia, Vashi said it is unlikely people will change their behavior in the near future. "It's like living in a fantasy".

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