What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder is not a well-known disease, but it does exist. Most of the people affected by this might also be suffering from eating disorders. So how does it differ from insecurity, low confidence and the lack of satisfaction of one’s appearance?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Called BDD, body dysmorphic disorder is characterized by the persistent feeling and thoughts of an imagined or real but slight physical defect. BDD is a type of body-image disorder in which a person dislikes one or more parts of his or her body. When other people tell them that there is nothing wrong with them, the person finds it difficult to believe because he or she sees a significant defect. It will impair the person’s social skills and daily routine because of the feeling of distress. There is no clear cause of BDD, but psychologists point to genetic predisposition, environment and life experiences as triggering factors.

Symptoms of BDD
People suffering from BDD cannot control their emotions. No matter what people tell them, they will not believe that the flaw they see is insignificant or doesn’t exist. They tend to isolate themselves and even opt for cosmetic surgery to correct the defects. Others suffer from a form of compulsive behavior to hide their imperfections. Those who are affected may have had a history of OCD, anxiety, social phobia and eating disorders. The following are often observed in people with BDD:

1. Feeling of anxiety when they are with people
2. Secretive and doesn’t want to ask for help
3. Excessive grooming to conceal the defect
4. Feeling distressed about a particular part of their body
5. Excessive workouts or exercise
6. Obsessed with picking the right clothes
7. Frequently checks the mirror or avoids it altogether
8. Often compares his or her body to others
9. He or she is open to or is actively seeking cosmetic surgery
10. Camouflages the imagined or slight flaws with makeup, clothing, and body positions

Treatment of BDD
It’s important to seek help for the person affected by BDD. Often, they are ashamed of asking for help themselves because they don’t want other people to think that they are vain. Yet they will go to such lengths as changing their appearance by constantly dieting, exercising and even paying for cosmetic surgery. In extreme cases, people ask for a body part to be removed.

Before a person is treated, the psychiatrist will ask several questions to determine how the condition has affected the life of the patient. The severity of the condition will determine the course of action that needs to be taken. Treatment of BDD may involve cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT sometimes alongside medication for severe cases. The primary type of medication that will be prescribed is an antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI.

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