What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
What are the Causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder?Body dysmorphic disorder is a major psychological disorder not caused by any particular reason. It usually starts during adolescence and can affect both males and females. Like most other mental illnesses, it may be a result of a combination of factors such as:
- Abnormalities in the levels of certain chemicals in the brain
- Heredity, where biological family members may have at least one gene associated with BDD.
- Constant exposure to negative surroundings
The symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder widely vary from person to person. Individuals affected by BDD are generally obsessed with certain body parts or changes in their eyes, hair, and nose, among others. Some examples of their obsession include:
- Large noticeable moles or scars on the body
- Increased growth in facial and body hairs
- Baldness or fewer hairs on the head
- Size or shape of genitalia
- Breast size
- Less muscle growth
- Shape of the face or another body part
- Acne or pimples
An individual affected with BDD may show these signs:
- Repetitive checking of minor or imagined flaws
- Avoiding mirrors
- Avoiding taking photos of self
- Repetitive grooming activities such as shaving, combing hair, etc.
- Comparing appearances with others
- Wearing excessive make-up to camouflage the defects
- Excessive changing of clothes
- Undergoing cosmetic surgeries
How to Diagnose Body Dysmorphic Disorder?Body dysmorphic disorder is generally diagnosed by doctors using certain tests. These tests include both medical and psychological tests that help in pinpointing the disorder.
Physical examination and laboratory tests are used to diagnose any other condition that may be contributing to BDD.
A psychological examination will help more clearly to diagnose the exact condition and to understand its severity. It also helps to identify any associated psychiatric illness, if present.
How do you Treat Body Dysmorphic Disorder?Treatment used for body dysmorphic disorder may include medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. Medication treatment is usually necessary only for more severely ill and suicidal patients.
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on several aspects which include:
- Making an individual to be aware of his feelings, thoughts and behavior
- Encouraging the individual to feel good about himself / herself
- Eradicating negative thoughts
- Teaching to socialize with others
- Establishing a positive environment using psychotherapy
Medication used for BDDThe most common form of medication given for BDD patients are from a group of drugs called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Some common drugs in this group include citalopram, fluoxetine (Prozac), etc. In some cases, a tricyclic antidepressant called clomipramine is also used to treat BDD. Though these drugs are effective and are commonly being used, they are not approved by the FDA for this purpose.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRIs are antidepressant medications that have been proved to be effective for BDD.
They help in controlling obsessions and compulsive behaviors. BDD-related distress and suicidal thoughts also usually improve. SSRIs have positive effects on the patient by correcting a "chemical imbalance" in the brain.
Patient must be tried with SSRI for 12–16 weeks before concluding about its effectiveness.