Body dysmorphic disorder, also referred to as body dysmorphia, is a mental health illness in which you are preoccupied with one or more perceived flaws in your appearance, even if they are small or invisible to others. This condition may make you experience anxiety, embarrassment, and aversion to social interactions.
What is body dysmorphic disorder?
We all have days when we feel self-conscious about a particular component of our appearance or believe we don't look our best. However, if you discover that you frequently dwell on, conceal, or attempt to rectify what you perceive as faults, you may have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).
You are not alone as BDD affects 1 in 50 people. Although most instances start in the early adolescent years, this disorder can affect men and women of all ages.
If you have BDD, you could feel a significant discrepancy between how you see your body and what your loved ones tell you about it. Even though you think you look weird or ugly in some ways, other people probably don't share your opinion. Although you objectively know that your loved ones are right, you cannot help but feel stressed and anxious because of your body image. If this describes you, you are not crazy, conceited, or vain. BDD is a legitimate psychological condition that can improve with care and self-help.
What are the symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder?
In people with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), obsession can develop regarding any physical component. The most usually impacted areas are your face, hair, skin, chest, and stomach.
BDD symptoms include:
- Scrutinizing your reflection repeatedly
- Not using mirrors
- Attempting to conceal a bodily portion with a scarf, hat, or makeup
- Constant grooming or exercise
- Comparing oneself to others constantly
- Asking others frequently whether they think you look alright
- Not trusting others' statements that you look fine
- Abstaining from social interactions
- Not leaving the house, especially throughout the day
- Seeing numerous medical professionals concerning your appearance
- Undergoing pointless plastic surgery
- Using tweezers or your fingers to scratch at your skin
- Sensing fear, depression, and humiliation
- Suicidal thoughts
What causes body dysmorphic disorder?
The exact cause of this condition is unknown. According to one hypothesis, some neurotransmitters (chemicals that help nerve cells in the brain send messages to each other) may be problematic. This notion is supported by the fact that body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) frequently coexists with other mental health issues, such as severe sadness and anxiety.
Some factors that are responsible for the condition include:
- Childhood experiences: You may be more prone to developing BDD if certain circumstances or events have occurred in your childhood. People who have BDD may have been bullied about their bodies, had relatives who only valued a child's physical attractiveness, or were mistreated as children.
- Brain differences: BDD may be triggered by physical modifications to the brain's structure or function.
- Family history: According to certain studies, BDD or obsessive-compulsive disorder is more likely seen in those whose mother, father, or siblings also have the illness.
How to treat body dysmorphic disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is challenging to treat without medical intervention. It rarely improves on its own and frequently gets worse. If you have BDD or any mental health condition, your doctor and qualified mental health specialists will be able to suggest the most suitable course of therapy and counseling for you.
If you suspect you might have BDD, speak with your doctor; they might recommend a course of therapy that includes both medication and counseling.
The following are a few treatment options:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A type of psychotherapy that involves talking and is commonly used for counseling. CBT may require several sessions. This therapy may entail forcing yourself to interact with people in social circumstances without hiding or checking your "flaws." Your therapist might advise you to alter your habits or the setting in your house, such as getting rid of mirrors, rushing through your beauty routine, or forgoing makeup.
- Medication: BDD may be treated with antidepressant drugs such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
- Exposure and response prevention: Shows people that their perception of themselves is untrue by using thoughts and actual events.
- Group/family therapy: Family support is essential for a successful recovery. The indications and symptoms of BDD are taught to family members.
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