What is body dysmorphic disorder?

Have you ever heard of body dysmorphic disorder? The patient is unable to stop thinking about one or more defects or flaws in his appearance, even though it is an apparently small flaw or one that simply cannot be seen by others. In this type of disorder, these physical characteristics end up causing significant anguish and even affect everyday situations.

Cause and symptoms

It is not known specifically what causes body dysmorphic disorder. It can result from a combination of problems, such as a family history, brain abnormalities, or negative self-image experiences. The signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include:

  • Extreme concern for a physical failure that is imperceptible to others
  • Distorted perception that you have a defect in your appearance that makes you ugly or deformed
  • Distorted perception that others pay negative attention to appearance and mock
  • Constant attempts to hide the flaws
  • Constant comparisons between your appearance and that of others
  • perfectionist trends
  • Excessive search for cosmetic and aesthetic procedures

Perceptions of body dysmorphic disorder vary: the person may recognize that their perceptions of failures are excessive, think they are probably true, or they may find themselves absolutely convinced that they are true. The more convinced a person is of their perception, the more anguish and disturbance they experience. Suicidal thoughts and behavior are common in body dysmorphic disorder.

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Treatment for body dysmorphic disorder involves antidepressants. Typically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or clomipramine. Cognitive-behavioral therapy with a specific focus on symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder may also be effective. Other methods include habit reversal therapy. However, some experts argue that a combination of pharmacotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy is the best approach for severe cases.

If you have or know someone who suffers from BDD, the advice is to seek a psychologist and/or a psychiatrist, as it is often necessary to have a multidisciplinary approach to treat the case.

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