Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a preoccupation of one or more parts of the body, and with it being perceived as ugly or disproportionate. The preoccupation of his or her perceived flaw can take up hours of each day and cause significant anxiety and depression. Often, and in many cases, the perceived flaw is not noticeable by others.
Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder include:
Persistent and intrusive negative self-appraisal of one or more body parts, despite being told they look fine.
Significant anxiety about perceived flaw and a strong urge to correct it.
Interest in and/or follow through with unnecessary plastic surgeries to correct the perceived flaw.
Lack of satisfaction with body or body parts, despite efforts to change them (makeup, surgery or other medical procedures).
These intrusive thoughts often lead to compulsive behaviors, done in attempt to reduce the anxiety and discomfort caused by BDD thoughts.
Typical Body Dysmorphic Disorder Compulsions may involve:
Medical procedures or surgeries to improve perceived flaw.
Constantly comparing ones body or body part to others.
Camouflaging perceived flaw using makeup, clothing, hats etc.
Avoidance of daily activities or social activities in fear of being negatively evaluated or judged by others.
Repetitive checking perceived flaw in mirrors or reflective surfaces.
Avoidance of mirrors, reflective surfaces or dressing rooms.
Excessive Exercise or body sculpting.
Compulsive Skin picking or Hair Pulling (Trichotillomania).
Repetitive mental review of peoples’ reaction to the perceived flaw (whether real or unreal).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most successful treatment modalities for Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). The treatment for BDD using CBT involves learning how to identify distorted thoughts and restructure them into more reasonable and rational thoughts. This is commonly called Cognitive Therapy. Treatment also involves Exposure and Prevention (ERP), which is a component of Behavioral Therapy used to help a client to desensitize to their perceived flaw. Using a hierarchy (created by the client), the client will slowly expose themselves to their fear and learn mindfulness tools to manage their anxiety and other emotions that they experience, instead of doing compulsive behaviors (Read more about Mindfulness here LINK).
It is common for BDD to look similar to other disorders, causing many to go misdiagnosed for some time. It is important to rule out other disorders before beginning treatment. Related disorders may include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (LINK), Social Anxiety (LINK), Eating Disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa (LINK) and Bulimia Nervosa (LINK) and Orthorexia (LINK).
If you have some or all of these symptoms and want to be sure you are you getting the correct treatment, see a qualified mental health professional for an assessment. Click here to contact Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT