Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental condition that affects many people around the world. The Mayo Clinic writes that this disorder: “is a type of chronic mental illness in which you can’t stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance – a flaw either that is minor or that you imagine” (Mayo Clinic). People who suffer with this disorder believe that their flaw, whether real or imaginary, is so horrible that they do not want to be seen by other people and often withdraw from friends and even family members.
There are many symptoms of having body dysmorphic disorder. Some of those symptoms include:
• Worrying over your appearance for several hours a day
• Having a belief that you have a physical flaw or deformity that makes you unattractive
• Believing that others always focus on this deformity and think negatively about your physical appearance
• Refusing to be in pictures
• Wearing excessive or outrageous clothing or makeup to try to cover the supposed flaw
One other symptom of this disorder is frequently having cosmetic surgery, but having no satisfaction with the results, and seeking further cosmetic procedures. The obsessive thoughts about specific body parts can change over time, and this is one reason that cosmetic surgery can be sought multiple times.
Most people who have this disorder do not get better on their own, and can even get worse over time, so it is important to seek proper medical assistance to deal with the disorder.
While it is not known what the exact cause of this disorder stems from, many believe that it can develop from a combination of causes. These causes include:
• Biochemical- some researchers suggest that the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain may have an effect on this disorder
• Environmental-life experiences, culture, and the environment you were raised in may have an impact on this disorder. Children who grow up with highly critical parents who often make negative remarks on their appearance may struggle with their own physical appearance later in life.
• Genes- some research suggests that genes may play a part in this disorder, and that it may be passed down genetically to the next generation in a family.
There are many complications which may arise as a result of this disorder. Some complications include: social phobias, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, OCD, substance abuse, low self-esteem, social isolation, depression and other mood disorders.
While the complications are great, there is hope for those who have this disorder. Treatment for body dysmorphic disorder usually involves a combination of psychotherapy and medications. Cognitive behavioral therapy and behavior therapy are often the recommended therapies for those living with this disorder. Therapy normally involves training that allows the patient to change the way they view themselves (BDD). Common medications are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs, or Tricyclic Antidepressants.
“Body Dysmorphic Disorder”
“Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)”