Spanish psychologist claims facemasks have worsened “Body Dysmorphic Disorder” in teens

A Spanish Psychologist has claimed that facemasks will produce heightened anxiety in teenagers with “Body Dysmorphic Disorder”

The Covid pandemic caused the World to don facemasks in an effort to control the spread of the virus, but for insecure teenagers the facemask was a useful tool for hiding their faces. Spain’s official removal of the mandate on facemasks indoors on Wednesday 20, April will lead to increased “Body Dysmorphic Disorder” and anxiety amongst teenagers according to a Spanish Psychologist.

Iván Chamizo, clinical psychologist at the Centre for Applied Psychology at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) told 20Minutos,: “Historically, diagnostic manuals have defined body dysmorphic disorder as a preoccupation with perceived imperfections in physical appearance that are not objectively observed by the environment.”

“This definition”, he continues, “does not explain why these difficulties appear, let alone why they are maintained, which is what is important when dealing with them clinically. It is therefore more appropriate to speak of them as what they are: psychological difficulties that present themselves differently in each individual and generate clinically significant distress”.

This can lead to a range of avoidance behaviours in which it is easy to understand the role that the mask has taken on. “If I don’t like my face,” the expert exemplifies, “and in order to alleviate the discomfort, I would probably engage in behaviours such as avoiding showing my face, avoiding meeting other people or going to crowded places. In the short term, they produce a sense of relief and control over the situation; but in the long term they encourage the maintenance of the discomfort and other unpleasant consequences”.

“In this sense, the pandemic has limited many social behaviours with other people and has made it difficult to express emotions when wearing masks. Adolescence is a stage of life in which comparisons with peers are more frequent, as it is a behaviour that is useful in forming an adolescent’s identity. Physical appearance tends to be one of the most important areas at this age and often generates more comparisons”, stated Chamizo.

Speaking on what parents can do to help teenagers suffering from “Body Dysmorphic Disorder” and anxiety provoked by not wearing a mask Chamizo stated: “Above all, it is important to validate their emotions and give them a realistic view of what is happening to them, i.e. they have a psychological difficulty that may be normal at this age and that may have been increased by the pandemic situation in which we live. The best possible advice is that, if they need it, they should go to a psychological support service to deal with these psychological difficulties when they are causing them very intense discomfort.” 


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Written by

Joshua Manning

Originally from the UK, Joshua is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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