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Psychology Explains The Signs of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (And Why It Happens)


Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD is a psychiatric disorder that causes an obsessive preoccupation with a perceived flaw in your appearance. Illusions about a flaw in your appearance can motivate you to pursue various treatments to change your appearance. Here’s what psychologists say about the causes and symptoms of BDD.

What is body dysmorphic disorder?

TO recent study in August 2020 it declared that 2% of the American adult population struggles with body dysmorphic disorder. Psychologists recently classified BDD as an obsessive compulsive disorder, as it involves repetitive acts and behaviors. The person may have rituals such as constantly looking in the mirror, pinching the skin, overdressing, and constantly comparing himself to others. There are also pathological fears of being ugly based on some part of your body.

Unfortunately, BDD disorder is easily misinterpreted and downplayed. People with this disorder may feel disapproval and even reproach from others.

BDD symptoms

BDD patients most often struggle with the appearance of their head and face. They may obsess over scars, acne, wrinkles, facial symmetry, thinning hair, or facial hair. Other concerns that obsess BDD patients include their

  • Shape and size of the nose
  • Eyes, eyelids and eyebrows
  • Size and shape of the ears
  • Cheeks
  • Tooth
  • Lips
  • Mouth
  • Mandible

Orthodontists, dermatologists, and plastic surgeons see large numbers of these patients pass through their offices. Dermatologists are often the first physicians to recognize a body dysmorphic disorder in their patients.

About 26% to 40% of people with BDD seek cosmetic surgery. BDD patients are obsessed with their appearance and most BDD patients are unhappy once they receive dermatological treatments. In fact, dermatologists say that these patients are some of the most difficult patients to work with due to their obsession with perfection. Today, dermatologists are working with psychiatrists to identify BDD patients and help them receive treatment. Cosmetic treatments rarely address the appearance desires of BDD patients. In fact, plastic surgery can often exacerbate a person’s obsession with appearance with BDD, resulting in suicide.

There are a growing number of BDD patients seeking orthodontic treatments to improve their appearance. Braces, teeth whitening and jaw surgery, as well as spacing, tooth size and adjustments to your smile. Approximately 5.2% of orthodontic patients have BDD.

Diagnosis of BDD

The diagnosis of this disorder focuses on the obsessive nature and repetitive behaviors of the patient. These behaviors can take 3 to 8 hours a day.

These include:

  • Camouflage with makeup to hide imperfections
  • Weight lifting or excessive exercise
  • Pinching the skin until it bleeds
  • Excessive attention to clothing
  • Excessive grooming

On average, a person suffering from BDD may be preoccupied with the skin, hair, nose, or part of the body, but may obsess over 5 to 7 different parts of the body during their lifetime. Men perceived that their muscles or penis are too small. Women are obsessed with a thin nose or lips.

What Causes Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

BDD is a growing problem in western countries. This section provides some of the most alarming Body Dysmorphic Foundation statistics.

  • Anyone can get BDD.
  • About 40% of those with BDD are men, and 60% are women.

Other characteristics of those with BDD include the following:

  • BDD occurs in children ages 4 to 5
  • Most of the time, BDD begins at age 12 or 13.
  • In 2/3 of children with BDD, it started before the age of 18.
  • BDD occurs in all ethnic groups and races.
  • It is a global problem but more common in western nations.
  • It affects all socioeconomic levels

It is not fully understood why people get CDD. Many people with BDD say they remember being bullied or having bad comments about their appearance, even young children. Unfortunately, this disorder is often not recognized or diagnosed until a crisis occurs for the person suffering from it. Mental health professionals are often unfamiliar with BDD than they are with other disorders. Also, people with BDD do not seek help, either by denying they have a problem or getting help for obsessions with body image. Others may stop telling their doctors about their obsessions due to

  • Shame
  • Fear of being judged
  • Feeling that the doctor won’t understand
  • Assuming your body image issues aren’t a problem.
  • Or they don’t want to know that their body image issues are a problem.
  • Suppose you are the only ones who have this kind of problem.
  • The doctor doesn’t ask them about body image issues, so they don’t mention it.
  • Not knowing that there is a treatment for their body image problems.

The causes of BDD are not clear, but it is thought that biological or environmental problems could contribute, such as genetic disposition, personality traits, life experiences such as parental abuse, or sexual trauma.

Could I have BDD?

Do you have BDD? It is a question worth asking. See if any of these symptoms are something you are struggling with.

  1. Do you constantly feel ugly, abnormal, or disfigured compared to other people?
  2. Are you obsessed with a part of your body and spend up to 1 hour a day or more thinking about it?
  3. Are you convinced that you are different from other people and do not struggle with the same things that you do regarding your physical appearance?
  4. Do you have repetitive behaviors to hide, fix, inspect, or find reassurance about your body part?
  5. Do you repeatedly find yourself:
  • Compare yourself with others
  • Do you try to hide your blemishes with makeup or other things? (a person who adds padding to their clothes to make them look more “normal.”
  • Constantly check the mirror, windows, and cell phone screen to see if you look okay.
  • Seek approval of your appearance.
  • Choose your skin to get rid of perceived skin defects.
  • Change a lot of clothes during the day.
  • Extreme tan
  • Extreme exercise or weight lifting
  • Constant shopping
  • Have you sought out a dermatologist, orthodontist, or plastic surgeon to correct your blemishes only to feel like you didn’t get it as perfect as you wanted?
  1. Do you avoid social settings because of your appearance?
  2. Do you feel sad, anxious, irritable, or angry about your appearance?
  3. Have your struggles interfered with your work, school?
  4. Have you thought about harming yourself because of your struggles?

Take a look at the International OCD Foundation website to perform a BDD self-test. If you think you have BDD, you should seek help. Visit your doctor or seek a counselor for treatment. Many good treatments can relieve you of these difficult feelings and struggles.

BDD treatments

Behavior modification therapies are beneficial in treating BDD. These include:

  • Cognitive behavior therapy: This therapy helps you cope with symptoms through personal counseling and group therapy.
  • Medications: Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) are often the first line of treatment for BDD.

Most BDD patients participate in both treatments simultaneously. They have been very effective in treating this disorder.

Do you know someone who may have a body dysmorphic disorder?

You may know someone who has symptoms of BDD. Both men and women suffer from this condition, but symptoms can appear in elementary school or adolescence. Check out this list of BDD symptoms and behaviors that might characterize a friend or family member.

The following behaviors may indicate this disorder:

  • Worried about your physical flaws
  • They think they are ugly or deformed.
  • They think that others are looking at their flaws and tease and gossip about those people.
  • Wearing a lot of makeup to hide flaws
  • You need a lot of reassurance from yourself and from others
  • TO perfectionist about his appearance
  • They may have already had surgery to correct their “flaws” and are still not happy.
  • Anxious for people’s opinions about their appearance.
  • They may have an eating disorder: bulimia or anorexia.
  • Substance abuse problem
  • Cuts or suicide attempts

Final thoughts on identifying body dysmorphic disorder

If you know a friend or family member who suffers from these symptoms, encourage them to seek help. BDD is a manageable disorder and they can find freedom from their obsessions to enjoy life without fear of their appearance or not.

Body dysmorphic disorder is a common problem, especially in today’s body image obsessed culture. Although social media and celebrity blogs do not cause BDD, these unrealistic images can make it worse. In fact, they can amplify the suffering of BDD. obsessive fears and you fight. If you or someone you know is struggling with BDD, don’t hesitate to seek help. Treatment is available and effective. You are worth more than your appearance. Find relief and happiness in being yourself in your appearance and personality.





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