Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Description:
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), occasionally still called dysmorphophobia, is a mental disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that, to others, is either minor or not observable. But you may feel so ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations.It occurs both men & women equally.

When you have body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely obsess over your appearance and body image, repeatedly checking the mirror, grooming or seeking reassurance, sometimes for many hours each day. Your perceived flaw and the repetitive behaviors cause you significant distress, and impact your ability to function in your daily life.

BDD is also considered to be a type of social phobia and anxiety disorder, since it revolves around consistent, out-of-control fear in regards to being judged badly by others. Those with BDD greatly try to avoid being criticized, scrutinized, feeling vulnerable, or being embarrassed and humiliated in social situations. Because fear over weight gain or other body changes is the underlying cause of distress associated with BDD, it’s common for people with BDD to withdraw socially, avoid situations that are unfamiliar or feel out of control, and respond very emotionally to any sense of social criticism.

It usually starts during adolescence and affects both men and women. The BDD subtype muscle dysmorphia, perceiving the body as too small, affects mostly males. Besides thinking about it, one repetitively checks and compares the perceived flaw, and can adopt unusual routines to avoid social contact that exposes it. Fearing the stigma of vanity, one usually hides the preoccupation. Commonly unsuspected even by psychiatrists, BDD has been underdiagnosed. Severely impairing quality of life via educational and occupational dysfunction and social isolation, BDD has high rates of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

You may seek out numerous cosmetic procedures to try to “fix” your perceived flaw. Afterward, you may feel a temporary satisfaction, but often the anxiety returns and you may resume searching for a way to fix your perceived flaw.

Treatment of body dysmorphic disorder may include cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.

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Symptoms:
Common signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include:

*Having intense, recoccuring thoughts and impulses regarding one’s body appearance, or certain features of one’s body or face

*Seeing certain body parts as being disproportionate and inadequate (for example, the stomach or thighs as being big, or muscles being too small in men)

*Overly focusing on any perceived flaw in one’s facial features, skin, height, hair or clothing (for example, having intense anxiety over acne, wrinkles, thinning hair, scars or facial asymmetry)

*Missing work or school and other social situations out of fear others will notice one’s flaws

*Feeling anxious over one’s food choices, exercise routine and surroundings. This can include excessive exercise for weight loss or for muscle gains

*Increased irritability and judgement of others

*Experiencing relationship problems, jealousy, greatly seeking approval from others and needing reassurance

*Social withdrawal and increased time spent alone

*Symptoms of social phobia, or social anxiety, including severe blushing, sweating, shuddering, shyness, trembling or nausea when around others

*Behaviors associated with binge eating and yo-yo dieting, including changes in eating patterns or frequently dieting and even entering into starvation mode

*Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) including following strict rituals, feeling scared over changing repetitive behaviors (including eating or exercise behaviors), and feeling distressed over a lack or control or when one’s schedule is changed

*Obsessively checking one self in the mirror, applying makeup, grooming and trying to alter one’s appearance, often with with cosmetic/plastic surgeries

*Symptoms of depression, including fatigue, lack of pleasure, reduced motivation, insomnia or sleeping excessively, and suicidal thoughts
Other physical symptoms of anxiety, including lightheadedness, dizziness, trouble sleeping, digestive problems, shortness of breath and panic attacks, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Causes:
It’s not known specifically what causes body dysmorphic disorder. Like many other mental illnesses, body dysmorphic disorder may result from a combination of causes, such as:

*Brain differences. Abnormalities in brain structure or neurochemistry may play a role in causing body dysmorphic disorder.

*Genes. Some studies show that body dysmorphic disorder is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this condition or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

*Environment. Your environment, life experiences and culture may contribute to body dysmorphic disorder, especially if they involve negative social evaluations about your body or self-image, or even childhood neglect or abuse..

Risk factors:

Certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering body dysmorphic disorder, including:

*Having blood relatives with body dysmorphic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder

*Negative life experiences, such as childhood teasing and trauma

*Certain personality traits, such as perfectionism

*Societal pressure or expectations of beauty

*Having another psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety or depression

Diagnosis:
After a medical evaluation to help rule out other medical conditions, the health care provider may make a referral to a mental health professional for further evaluation.

Diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder is typically based on:

*A psychological evaluation that assesses risk factors and thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to negative self-image

*Personal, social, family and medical history

*Symptoms listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association

Treatment:
Treatment for body dysmorphic disorder often includes a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medications.

Cognitive behavioral therapy:

Cognitive behavioral therapy for body dysmorphic disorder focuses on:

*Helping you learn how negative thoughts, emotional reactions and behaviors maintain problems over time

*Challenging automatic negative thoughts about your body image and learning a more flexible and realistic way of thinking

*Learning alternate ways to handle urges or rituals to help reduce mirror checking or reassurance seeking

*Teaching you other behaviors to improve your mental health

*You and your therapist can talk about your goals for therapy and develop a personalized treatment plan to learn and strengthen coping skills.

Medications:

Although there are no medications specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat body dysmorphic disorder, medications used to treat other mental disorders, such as depression, can be effective.

*Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Because body dysmorphic disorder is thought to be caused in part by problems related to the brain chemical serotonin, SSRIs may be prescribed. SSRIs appear to be more effective for body dysmorphic disorder than other antidepressants and may help control your obsessions and repetitive behaviors.

*Other medications. In some cases, you may benefit from taking other medications in addition to an SSRI, depending on your symptoms.

Natural Treatments for Body Dysmorphic Disorder:

1. Identification of Co-Existing Disorders:
BDD is considered to be a severe disorder, and professional treatment is always recommended. There is plenty that someone struggling with BDD can do on their own to improve recovery and manage symptoms, but seeing a therapist is still encouraged.

2. Become Educated on Early Warning Sides & Symptoms:
Recognizing when healthy eating, self-improvement, and exercise patterns start to turn into obsessions is an important step for anyone with a history of body image issues, plus their family members and close friends. Strict rituals around weight and appearance usually take form gradually, so intercepting them early on when they start to cause anxiety is the best way to prevent them from worsening.

3. Reduce Stress & Try Mindfulness Meditation:
High amounts of stress and anxiety can be trigger for body image issues and body distortion. Meditation and other “mind-body” practices can help increase self-esteem, self-worth and self-compassion, which are important for preventing body image issues and anxiety.

Mindfulness works similarly to CBT in that it helps increase self-awareness and identify underlying thoughts and limiting self-beliefs that might be contributing to BDD. Certain studies have found evidence supporting the effectiveness of mindful eating programs and mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of various eating disorders, symptoms of body dissatisfaction and social anxiety.

4.Other effective ways to relieve stress and social anxiety include:
*Doing something creative and fun for a period of time each day

*Joining a support group online or in person

*Trying yoga, Tai Chi or other mind-body exercises

*Branching out to try new activities, join a team or volunteer

*Writing in a journal. This can include making a “values list” of traits that are important for well-being beyond appearance

*Spending more time outdoors in nature, including earthing

*Regularly exercising

*Practicing deep breathing

*Practicing prayer and other forms of spirituality that can increase a sense of connectedness and purpose

*Fostering relationships with supportive people (studies find our relationships are one of the things that make us happiest

Stick to a Balanced, Nourishing Diet:
For people with BDD whose symptoms are mostly related to their body weight, it’s crucial to learn to set realistic goals for what it means to eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy BMI. A nutritionist and/or therapist can help someone with BDD to create a balanced dietary plan that includes enough energy (calories), nutrients and meets their needs overall while considering their unique body shape and size.

Learning “intuitive eating” or mindful eating are two approaches to achieving sustainable healthy eating and body acceptance. Intuitive eaters believe that blame over flaws regarding someone’s appearance shouldn’t be put on person suffering, but instead on the flawed process of achieving perfection portrayed by the media and of dieting.

The goal is to maintain a way of eating that supports a healthier relationship with food and focuses on health holistically, both physically and mentally. Studies show that intuitive eating/mindful eating offer a “realistic alternative to address overweight and obesity than conventional weight-loss treatments”.

Prevention:
There’s no known way to prevent body dysmorphic disorder. However, because body dysmorphic disorder often starts in the early teenage years, identifying the disorder early and starting treatment may be of some benefit.

Long-term maintenance treatment also may help prevent a relapse of body dysmorphic disorder symptoms.

Regular Yoga exercise with mindful meditation and balanced diet is a great way to to prevent body dysmorphic disorder.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_dysmorphic_disorder
https://draxe.com/body-dysmorphic-disorder/
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353938

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