EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — “Zoom dysmorphia” is a new mental health disorder emerging from excessive video calls, causing one to be insecure about their appearance.
Dr. Sarah Martin, psychiatrist from Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, said teachers and school counselors have been reaching out for assistance with the rising number of teens having thoughts of self-harm.
“Maybe we do need to give our students a little break in terms of not having to have their camera on all the time,” said Martin, explaining that teenagers are more sensitive to their looks and being exposed on video camera might prompt more insecurities about their appearance.
So-called “Zoom dysmorphia” describes a new form of body dysmorphia, a psychiatric disorder that manifests in obsessiveness over a perceived flaw in appearance.
Martin explained that some concern about looks with teenagers and adults is developmentally normal, but once it starts affecting one’s daily life, it is considered a disorder.
“They’ll think that something about themselves is extremely ugly, not just ‘I’m having a bad hair day,’ but so ugly that other people will not like [them], love [them], accept [them],” explained Martin.
A new study from Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Dermatology suggests there has been an increase in cosmetic procedures prompted by excessive time spent on video calls.
The study found a 56 percent increase in requests for cosmetic procedures and 86 percent of those requests are prompted by flaws seen over video calls.
“If we feel good about the things that we can do, that is a more core thing to help your child develop,” explained Martin, suggesting building up your child’s self-esteem by encouraging them to do things they’re good at instead of focusing on their looks.
She said this will help them in not developing disorders like body dysmorphia later in life.
For adults, she advised, if the issue is mild, to find guidance in self-help or workbooks, but if you are feeling that your thoughts are preventing you from having an established social life, it is time to get professional help.
“A lot of patients come to me and say, ‘I’ve been suicidal, but who hasn’t? That’s normal.’ No, it’s not normal, it’s a very scary thing,” said Martin, urging everyone to take signs of mental illnesses seriously, including body dysmorphia, which is sometimes closely related with depression.