Body Dysmorphic Disorder | Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by the overwhelming feelings of having a self-assumed physical defect or such a minor defect that others usually do not even observe. Consequently, the people having this disorder consider themselves as ugly and often avoid social interactions or go for cosmetic or plastic surgery in order to improve their physical / facial appearance and to boost their self-esteem.
A person having BDD always focuses on their appearance and looks. They keep checking the mirror, grooming or seeking encouragement, sometimes for several hours on daily basis. The assumed flaw and the repetitive behaviors also cause noteworthy distress, and influences his abilities to function in his daily life.
The over-all outlook is promising for people having BDD who receive and follow a complete treatment regimen. Additionally, those having a strong support team and following psychological interventions tend to do better in the long run.
The most common causes of concern related to imperfections in people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder:
- Skin related imperfections/complexes:
These involve scars, wrinkles, pimples, and spots.
This involves less hair on the head or excessive body hair or absence of hair.
- Facial features:
Most of times it includes the nose that might be too long or too flat, but it also might involve the shape and size of any other feature of body.
- Body weight:
The affected individuals may get obsessed about their body weight or the muscle tone.
Other main areas of concern for those affected with BDD includes the size of the breasts, muscles, penis, thighs, buttocks, belly and the presence of certain body odors.
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Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder:
Some of the most common warning signs that a person having BDD include the following:
- Getting involved in repeated and time-consuming senseless behaviors, such as looking into a mirror, picking at the skin to remove pimples, and trying to hide or cover up the assumed defect.
- Constantly looking for reassurance that the defect is not so prominent or too obvious.
- Repeatedly observing or watching the assumed defect.
- Experiencing difficulties at school or work, or in relationships due to the failure to stop concentrating about the assumed defect.
- Feeling self-aware and not wanting to go out in public, rather choosing to isolate oneself because of the feelings of anxiousness while being around other people.
- Frequently checking with medical professionals, such as plastic surgeons or dermatologists, in order to find ways to improve their look.
Risk factors of Body Dysmorphic Disorder:
Body Dysmorphic Disorder usually starts in the early teenage years and affects both males and females.
Certain factors are seen to increase the possibility of developing or initiating body dysmorphic disorder, involving:
- Having close relatives with obsessive-compulsive disorder or body dysmorphic disorder
- Negative experiences in life, such as childhood abuse or neglect
- Specific personality traits, such as perfectionism
- Societal pressure or prospects of beauty
- Having any other mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety
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Causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder:
It is still not known that what causes Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Like many other mental health disorders, BDD might result from a combination of problems. For example, a family history of the disorder, defects in the brain chemicals, and negative appraisals or experiences about the body or self-image.
Diagnosis of Body Dysmorphic Disorder:
The shame and secrecy that often goes along with BDD makes its diagnosis difficult. Most experts agree with the fact that many cases of BDD go undiagnosed. People having the disorder usually are ashamed and unwilling to tell their mental health professionals about their concerns. As a consequence, the disorder can go unobserved for years or never be diagnosed. One clear sign to doctors is when patients over and over again seek plastic surgery for the same or multiple self-assumed physical defects.
In order to diagnose BDD, the doctor will likely start to evaluate with complete medical history and a physical exam. If the doctor suspects BDD, he might refer the individual to a psychologist or health care professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. The professional will make the diagnosis based on his assessment of the individual’s behavior, attitude and symptoms.
Treatment of Body Dysmorphic Disorder:
Treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder probably will involve a combination of the following therapies:
It is a type of individual counseling program that focuses on changing the thinking of a person with BDD through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The goal is to evaluate the false assumptions about the defect and to minimalize the compulsive behavior.
Specific anti-depressant medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are seen to be helpful in treating BDD. For example, antipsychotic medicines such as aripiprazole (Abilify) ,olanzapine (Zyprexa), or pimozide (Orap) (either alone or in combination with an SSRI). No drug is officially FDA-approved for the treatment of BDD.
Group and/or family therapy:
Family support is very significant in order to achieve treatment success. It is essential that family members should understand body dysmorphic disorder and should learn to identify its signs and symptoms.