What is body dysmorphic disorder?
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is more concerned with certain aspects of their appearance. Most people worry for a time about certain features of their face or body, but a person with BDD can spend a lot of time thinking about physical details that are not recognizable or visible to other people. This anxiety becomes obsessive. This condition has nothing to do with actual physical appearance, but with a person’s body self-image or how they see themselves.
One study suggests that CDD affects 0.7% to 4.0% of the US population. People between the ages of 15 to 30 are more likely to have BDD, and it is more common in women than in men. A study published in 2010 found that people who identify as LGBTQ + are more likely to report symptoms than people of the opposite sex. The National Center for LGBT Health Education notes that harassment, denial, and other pressures in the LGBTQ + youth community increase the risk of BDD.
Most people with BDD experience levels of anxiety that have a significant impact on their relationships and quality of life. It does not help to assure a person with BDD that the error that they perceive is not true or significant. However, drug treatment and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help if a person with BDD has an accurate diagnosis.
Criteria for BDD
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – Fifth Edition (DSM-5) lists the following criteria for diagnosing BDD:
- When a person appears one or more defects are not visible to others or are very slight.
- Carrying out repetitive behaviours such as looking in the mirror, touching, rubbing, or picking up on a perceived error, or making comparisons with others.
- The foresight causes considerable pain, the person is unable to function effectively in the social, professional, and other spheres of life.
- This weight has nothing to do with weight or body fat in people with an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa.
How does body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) affect people?
People with body dysmorphic disorder:
- They see themselves as “ugly”.
- Think about the flaws you notice for hours every day.
- They miss work or school because they don’t want others to see them.
- Avoid spending time with family and friends.
- Perform plastic surgery (possibly multiple surgeries) to improve your appearance.
- Experience extreme stress and harmful behaviours.
Who gets body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)?
Body dysmorphic disorder affects people of any gender. It begins in adolescence or adolescence. It is the age at which children begin to compare themselves with others. Body dysmorphic disorder is a chronic (chronic) condition.
Without treatment, body dysmorphic disorder worsens as people age. They are more dissatisfied with the physical changes that come with aging, such as wrinkles and grey hair.
What areas of the body are people with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) worried about?
The most common areas of concern for people with this condition include:
- Skin imperfections, including wrinkles, scars, acne, and blemishes.
- Hair, including head or body hair or baldness.
- Facial features, most often the nose.
- Stomach or chest.
Other areas of concern include:
- Penis size
- Body odours
Symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder
BDD leads to shyness and affects a person’s work and social life. The main symptom of a person with BDD experiences is a severe reaction to a visible defect or a slight physical imperfection. Symptoms are chronic and severe. A person’s vision can change from one part of the body to another.
In general, the areas that people with BDD usually treat:
- Skin, for example, pimples, oily or wrinkled
- Concern about facial hair, for example
Special areas of concern:
- Possibility of hair loss
This prejudice can lead to the following behaviours:
- Intense soul awareness of physical appearance.
- Repeatedly touching, throwing, measuring, or looking at the error
- Ignoring work, social life, family, personal health and well-being, and other aspects of life due to disability
- Frequent checks function on mirrors, mirrored doors, and other surfaces
- Completely avoiding mirrors and taking them out of the home
- Take care to hide the defect, for example through wigs, clothing, or makeup.
- Repeated visits to a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon in an attempt to correct the defect.
When you spend so many hours a day thinking about the mistake, it can be difficult to think about other things. Asking others for a deal and getting frustrated when others don’t see the mistake. It doesn’t help a friend or other person to explain that there is no mistake or that it is not important. Usually, a person with BDD does not trust them.
In the absence of others, the person may believe that she is talking or making fun of them. BDD affects a person’s quality of life. Some people with BDD experience such pain that they cannot go to work or socialize. They may also experience anxiety and depression and some may even consider suicide.
Doctors don’t really know what causes BDD, but there are a few reasons why it can occur.
Hereditary condition: a small study suggests that specific genetic factors may play a role. The study found that 8 per cent of people with BDD have a close relative and have had the condition for some time.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): BDD often affects people with or without a diagnosis of OCD. One study found that 8% to 37% of people with OCD also have BDD. Similar genetic factors are susceptible to both CDD and OCD, but more research is needed. CDD also responds to the same treatment as OCD.
Visual processing and other brain characteristics: In a 2004 study, people did things like draw toys and look at pictures, and people with BDD focused more on details and were more likely to perceive distortions than those without BDD. It is not clear whether these factors are the cause or the result of BDD, but scientists believe these factors may play a role.
Low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin: Scientists have found low levels of serotonin in some people with BDD, but it is unclear what role serotonin plays. When used as a treatment, serotonin alleviates some of the symptoms, but researchers say the link can be tricky.
Childhood experiences: According to one study, people who have experienced teasing or body shaming in the past may develop BDD. Having a high awareness of the concepts of beauty and harmony also affects BDD, although the study claims that it is the result of a disorder rather than a cause.
Teaching that you value specific ideas of beauty can also contribute to the development of CDT, but more research is needed to confirm this.
Body dysmorphic disorder usually begins in adolescence and affects both men and women. Certain factors increase the risk of developing or inducing a body dysmorphic disorder, including:
- Having blood relatives with body dysmorphic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Negative life experiences such as teasing, neglect, or abuse in childhood
- Some personality traits like perfection.
- Expectations of social stress or beauty.
- Another mental health condition such as anxiety or depression.
What if I have a body dysmorphic disorder?
If you think you may have BDD:
- Talk to a parent, therapist, doctor, or another adult you trust. Tell them what you are doing.
- Ask them to help you find a CBT therapist.
- Contact a CBT therapist to find out if you have BD.
- Keep all of your treatment appointments. It takes time and effort to change the way you see yourself.
Be patient: CBT therapy and medications take time and effort to get relief from BD. Work hard on treatment and don’t give up.
Body dysmorphic disorder treatment
Treatment of body dysmorphic disorder often involves a combination of cognitive-behavioural therapy and medication.
Cognitive behaviour therapy
Cognitive-behavioural therapy for body dysmorphic disorder focuses on:
- It helps you learn how negative thoughts, emotional reactions, and behaviours handle problems over time.
- Challenge automatic negative thoughts about your body image and learn more flexible thought patterns
- Learn alternative ways of handling wishes or rituals to help reduce the need to look or reassure mirrors.
- Teaches you other behaviours to improve your mental health, such as addressing social avoidance
You and your therapist can discuss your treatment goals and develop a personalized treatment plan to learn and strengthen coping skills. Involving family members in treatment is very important, especially for adolescents.
Although there are no medications specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat body dysmorphic disorder, medications used to treat other mental health conditions, such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, are effective.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs may be indicated because body dysmorphic disorder is believed to be caused to some extent by problems with the brain chemical serotonin. SSRIs appear to be more effective for body dysmorphic disorder than other antidepressants and can help control your negative thoughts and repetitive behaviours.
Other drugs In some cases, depending on your symptoms, you may benefit from taking other medications in addition to SSRIs.
In some cases, the symptoms of your body dysmorphic disorder can be so severe that you need a psychiatric hospital. This is generally only recommended when you are unable to carry out daily responsibilities or are at risk of injury.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Body dysmorphic disorder seeks treatment from mental health professionals. But there are some things you can do to help you plan your treatment:
- Stick to your treatment plan: Even if you don’t feel like going, don’t skip your treatment sessions. Even if you are in good health, keep taking your medications. If you stop, the symptoms may return. You may also experience symptoms such as withdrawal without suddenly stopping the drug.
- Learn about your disorder: Education about body dysmorphic disorder will empower and motivate you to stick to your treatment plan.
- Pay attention to warning signs: Work with your doctor or therapist to find out what triggers your symptoms. Make a plan for what to do when symptoms return. See your doctor or therapist if you notice any changes in your symptoms or how you feel.
- Practice the strategies learned: At home, routinely practice the skills you learn during treatment so they become strong habits.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol: Alcohol and recreational drugs can make symptoms worse or interact with drugs.
- Be active: Physical activity and exercise can help control many symptoms such as depression, stress, and anxiety. Consider walking, jogging, swimming, gardening, or any other form of physical activity you enjoy. However, avoid excessive exercise as a way to correct the perceived error.
Problems that occur or are associated with body dysmorphic disorder, for example:
- Major depression or other mental disorders
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviour
- Anxiety disorders, including social phobia
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Health problems from behaviours like scratching the skin
- Risk of physical pain or deformity due to repeated surgical procedures.
There is no known way to prevent body dysmorphic disorder. However, since body dysmorphic disorder often begins in adolescence, there is some benefit in early detection and treatment of the disorder. Long-term maintenance therapy can also help prevent the recurrence of body dysmorphic disorder symptoms.