Body dysmorphic disorder

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Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a serious illness that affects a persons excessive concern about their body image. A person with BDD or body dysmorphic disorder is preoccupied with minor or imaginary physical flaws of the skin, hair, nose or even their skin color. A person with BDD tends to seek or have a history of cosmetic surgery, and even if the surgery is successful, they do not think it was successful and are usually unhappy with the outcome. It was common believed that many celebrities with a history of several cosmetic surgeries such as the pop singer Michael Jackson suffered from BDD.

Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The symptoms of BDD include a preoccupation with minor or imaginary physical flaws of the skin, hair, and nose, such as acne, scarring, facial lines, marks, pale skin, thinning hair, excessive body hair, large nose, or crooked nose.

Often, people with body dysmorphic disorder tend to have a lot of anxiety and stress about the perceived physical flaw in their body and spending a lot of time focusing on it, such as frequently picking at skin, excessively checking appearance in a mirror, hiding the imperfection, comparing appearance with others, excessively grooming, seeking reassurance from others about how they look, and getting or seeking cosmetic surgery.

Does cosmetic surgery help Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Unfortunately, getting cosmetic surgery can make BDD worse as these people are often not happy with the outcome of the surgery. Even if they are happy with a particular surgery, they may start to focus attention on another body area and become preoccupied trying to fix the new "defect." In this case, some patients with BDD become angry at the surgeon for making their appearance worse and may even become violent towards the surgeon.

Treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The modalities of treatment of body dysmorphic disorder include medications, behavior therapy, counseling etc.

Medications for Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Medical management of BDD involves medications such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs which are antidepressants that decrease the obsessive and compulsive behaviors.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for Body Dysmorphic Disorder

  • This involves many steps such as the patient being asked to enter social situations without covering up her "defect."
  • The patient may bed asked to stop doing the compulsive behaviors to check the defect or cover it up which may include removing mirrors, covering skin areas that the patient picks, or not using make-up.
  • This also involves helping the patient change their false beliefs about their appearance.

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