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Definition of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a chronic mental illness. An affected person cannot stop finding flaws in his appearance. People suffering from BDD are preoccupied with either imagined or minor defects that are not visible to others. This often leads to distress and impacts the ability to function normally in daily life.

Causes of BDD

Specifically, it is difficult to determine the causes of body dysmorphic disorder. However, BDD may be due to the combination of various reasons like:

  • Abnormalities in brain structure
  • Genetic
  • Environment, culture, and negative experiences like child abuse
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression or anxiety

Areas of Concern

Both males and females are equally affected by this condition. BDD is usually seen during adolescence. Common areas of concern for the person suffering from BDD include:

  • Skin imperfections like scars, wrinkles, blemishes and acne
  • Hair imperfections
  • Facial features often involving the shape and size of the facial feature
  • Body weight
  • The size of the breasts, muscles, penis, buttocks and thighs
  • Presence of certain body odors

Symptoms of BDD

A person suffering from BDD may display the following warning signs due to the perceived defect:

  • Repetitive behaviors like being obsessed with checking oneself in the mirror
  • Touching the skin and trying to hide the perceived defect
  • Suffering from lack of concentration
  • Unable to cope with school, work or relationship
  • Asking for constant reassurance
  • Always feeling self-conscious or anxious when around other people
  • Repeatedly consulting medical specialists to improve their appearance

Diagnosis of BDD

If the doctor or the psychologist believes that the person is suffering from BDD or any other mental illness, he may run a series of tests to diagnose the condition. These tests include physical examination, lab tests and psychological evaluation.

Physical Examination which may help in clarifying other problems that may be related to other symptoms.

Lab Tests are conducted depending on the overall health.

Psychological Evaluation is done to know the symptoms by evaluating the feelings, thoughts and the behavior patterns.

Treatment of BDD

The person suffering from BDD may be treated with a combination of the following therapies:

Psychotherapy, also known as the cognitive therapy will be conducted to rectify the false belief about the defect or at least try and minimize the obsessive behavior.

Medication is also given in certain conditions. Doctors may prescribe antidepressant medications i.e. selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications have proven to treat the body dysmorphic syndrome.

Family Therapy is also helpful in improving the mental health of the person suffering and for the success of the body dysmorphic disorder treatment. They should understand what BDD is and learn to identify the signs or symptoms.

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