Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a chronic psychological condition where the affected person is constantly unhappy with his looks and is excessively concerned about perceived flaws in his physical features.

Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD):

Symptoms of BDD include:

  • Being obsessed with physical appearance and indulging in comparisons with others.
  • Convinced that they have physical defects that make them look ugly; and also belief that they are being constantly watched and judged by the people around them.
  • Examining one’s self very often in the mirror or completely avoiding mirrors.
  • Over indulgence in cosmetic procedures and excessive grooming, in the hope of correcting their perceived defects.
  • Avoiding public appearances to the extent of social distress like symptoms.
  • All these symptoms lead the affected to experience very low self-esteem, anxiety and stress.

Causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD):

It is difficult to pinpoint the causes of BDD with certainty. However, the factors that are known to increase the risk of developing BDD are:

Imbalances in Brain:

Brain, being a complex organ of sensations and feelings, experiences imbalances in the hundreds of neurotransmitters that it produces. Such imbalances may occur due to congenital reasons or developmental problems.

Genetic Factors:

Obsessive compulsive disorder and social distress syndrome are known precursors to BDD. These mental illnesses are genetic disorders that are usually passed on in a family with known history of such ailments. One of the features or symptoms of these disorders is BDD. 

Environmental Factors:

Negative experiences such as over-exposure to the media from a very young age or victims of teasing and taunting by family and friends can cause a person to develop BDD at a later stage in life.

Treatment Options for BDD:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):  

CBT involves teaching healthy behavior. It aims at making the patient realize his condition and teaches how to use this knowledge for self-help. Self-help and awareness techniques are taught to enable the patient to deal with ritualistic behavior and get out of the vicious cycle.

Medication:

Serotonin inhibitors (SSRIs) are the group of drugs commonly used to treat people suffering from this ailment. These are anti-depressants that prevent absorption of certain neurotransmitters that lead to obsessive behavior. 

The combination of medication and therapy can help a patient to break the cycle and improve his self esteem and social adaptability. Rehabilitation centers can be considered for severe cases of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.