Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a psychological disorder that affects a person by persistently preoccupying them with a perceived defect in their physical appearance. BDD sufferers may complain of a specific body feature, or several different features. They may also be obsessed with their overall general appearance.
BDD causes severe psychological distress, which can ultimately lead to deterioration of occupational and social functioning. It can cause severe depression and anxiety, or other anxiety disorders. It also causes the patient to completely withdraw from social situations.
The details surrounding the exact cause of can vary. Most clinicians agree that it is triggered by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors from the patient’s past or present. Patients who experienced abuse or neglect can also be affected.
Beginning symptoms of BDD can be viewed in adolescence, when normal sensitivity to one’s body image at this critical stage in their lives can be heightened dramatically. The myth surrounding BDD is that it affects mostly women, but both men and women can be affected. It is a chronic illness, with symptoms likely to persist or worsen if left untreated.
BDD can cause patients to seek out drastic measures to correct the areas of the body they deem unfit. Patients can undergo excessive cosmetic plastic surgery, putting demands on the plastic surgeon to continually correct their body.
Patients desire sundry forms of cosmetic procedures and the cost of breast augmentation surgery, price of a face-lift and various facial corrections and facial liposuction cost. Sufferers of BDD believe that drastic changes to their bodies will give them emotional relief. The truth is, the results of the plastic surgery leave the patient wanting more.
Treatment for BDD is absolutely necessary for the patient to achieve the tools necessary for healing. Cognitive-behavior therapy includes education about BDD and its treatment. It also helps the patient deal with obsessive thoughts and other problematic behaviors, such as the desire for excessive cosmetic plastic surgery.
Behavioral aspects work with exposure techniques and response prevention. Exposure consists of patients slowly learning to build enough confidence to begin to confront their fears. Techniques include exposure to public places, or allowing the patient’s targeted body part to be subjected to the criticism of others, without allowing patients to cover up or hide.
Response prevention encourages the patient to deliberately avoid compulsions, such as the desire to stare into a mirror or physically picking at the targeted body part. Continued avoidance results in decreased or diminished compulsive activity.