Body dysmorphic disorder, which is commonly known by the acronym BDD, is a very common disorder that affects men and women all around the world, although it is not commonly diagnosed in a medical setting. The American Psychiatric Association began to recognize BDD as a mental illness in 1987.
According to the medical journal World Psychiatry, this disorder has severe consequences if not recognized and treated. This type of mental disorder leads a person to believe that they are ugly or deformed, even when they may look perfectly normal. Those who suffer from BDD do not see what others around them see.
In fact, those who suffer from BDD have a completely different perception of themselves, even seeing something different in the mirror or photographs than what others see. A person suffering from BDD may simply see just one part of his or herself as being different, while others may be affected in a way that makes them see their whole bodies as being gruesome or unattractive in appearance.
Symptoms – Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder can affect men and women of all ages. There is no clear reason for why people suffer from this disorder, although it has been attributed to genetic makeup and improper brain development.
Symptoms of BDD include an unhealthy obsession with physical appearance, extremely low self-esteem, comparing a person’s appearance to others, and going to extremes to hide what a person feels is unattractive (wearing extra clothing, excessive makeup, or even plastic surgery).
Those who suffer from BDD may also believe that others view them in the same way that they view themselves and that others around them judge and examine what it is that they feel self-conscious about. A person with BDD will constantly seek approval from others regarding the way that he or she looks, although he or she may believe that others are lying to them.
People who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder may find that they become consumed with their appearance in such a way that it may affect the way that they live their everyday lives. It has been found that men and women who have relatives suffering from BDD may be more prone to also having the illness.
Those who have been teased for their looks early in life may also grow up to develop BDD. Those who have another type of disorder, such as depression or anxiety, may also develop this disorder. A person who suffers from BDD will typically begin to show signs and symptoms during the adolescent years, although it can become onset at a later age in both men and women, who are equally affected.
A medical doctor or psychiatrist will run a series of tests to determine if a person has body dysmorphic disorder. Common tests that are performed to diagnose BDD include a physical, lab tests, and a mental evaluation. Once a person is diagnosed with BDD, a course of treatment can be started by his or her doctor.
While medications are not available specifically for BDD, SSRIs commonly prescribed for other conditions such as anxiety may be used to treat the disorder. These SSRIs can take months before a patient begins to notice the effects, which will help them become less obsessed with their physical appearance. Other medications may be used to help treat the symptoms of this disorder.
Behavioral therapy is an option that many men and women suffering from BDD consider. Behavioral therapy is done with a therapist, who helps a patient through all of the emotions and thoughts that lead to their obsession with their appearance.
This type of therapy can help a person suffering from this disorder get to the root of the problem and acknowledge the compulsive behaviors that they go through every day. By becoming aware of the disorder and the root cause, successful recovery can begin for the patient.
Many men and women suffering from BDD find that talking through their feelings with a psychiatrist can help the healing process begin so that they can quit focusing so much on their perceived flaws and begin enjoying their lives again.
Those who suffer from BDD suffer from a very poor quality of life. They are never able to fully enjoy life because they are so caught up in their appearance. Daily living is affected, as a person suffering from BDD may find that they do not wish to leave their house or cannot enjoy activities that they once loved.
Personal relationships may also suffer because others around the affected person may not understand his or her disorder. Those with BDD may risk failing in school or losing a job because they are so preoccupied with their appearance and unable to pay full attention to their work. BDD sufferers may completely isolate themselves from others.
In addition to having a low quality of life, those who suffer from BDD may develop other disorders that can affect the way they live. Anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder (ODD) are not uncommon in a person who also has BDD.
Eating disorders in those who are unhappy with their bodies is also common. A man or woman with BDD may undergo risky cosmetic procedures, putting his or her health at risk with multiple procedures to correct what he or she is unhappy with.
Those who suffer from this disorder may also turn to drugs or alcohol to make them feel better about their appearance, leading to substance abuse. Suicidal thoughts are also part of BDD, as well as hospitalization in extreme cases. Those who have BDD should be evaluated as soon as symptoms are present to avoid further problems.
If you or a loved one have symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, it is important to see your doctor right away. Failure to diagnose and treat BDD may have serious consequences to a person’s mental and physical health. A psychiatrist or medical doctor can run tests to see if a person is suffering from BDD and can then determine a course of treatment that is specifically for their patient.