Body dysmorphic disorder – Symptoms, diagnosis, and management

Body dysmorphic disorder – Symptoms, diagnosis, and management

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition that can affect anyone, regardless of gender. People with this condition experience intense preoccupation and distress about the perceived flaws or defects in their physical appearance. This can lead to anxiety and self-destructive behavior. BDD is a treatable condition, but it is important to identify the symptoms early on to seek appropriate help. Here is how to identify BDD and the treatment options one can find:

There are several behavioral patterns to identify body dysmorphic disorder. Some of the common signs of the condition one can experience are:

  1. Spending hours every day obsessing over perceived flaws in appearance
    • Constantly checking or examining imperfections that one has identified
    • Feeling distressed or anxious about the appearance

  2. Frequently checking the appearance in mirrors or avoiding mirrors altogether
    • Feeling anxious or uncomfortable when looking in mirrors
    • Spending excessive time trying to fix or hide the flaws

  3. Avoiding social situations due to anxiety or excessive consciousness about physical appearance
    • Feeling uncomfortable or self-conscious in social situations
    • Avoiding activities or events due to concerns about self appearance

  4. Repeatedly seeking reassurance from others about physical appearance
    • Asking others for their opinion about their perceived flaws
    • Feeling reassured only temporarily before the feeling of anxiety returns

  5. Attempting to hide any blemishes through excessive grooming or wearing excessive makeup
    • Spending a lot of time on grooming or makeup to try to cover up the imperfect feature
    • Feeling distressed or anxious when unable to cover up blemishes

  6. Frequently comparing their physical appearance with others
    • Feeling envious or inadequate in comparison to others’ appearances
    • Obsessively comparing themselves to others, even strangers or celebrities

These symptoms can vary in severity and frequency from person to person, and not everyone with the disorder will experience all of them. If one notices one or more signs of the condition, they should consult a mental health professional to understand how to manage such symptoms.

Here are a few methods to diagnose body dysmorphic disorder:

Psychological evaluation: Here, a mental health professional will ask one about the history of symptoms and behaviors related to their appearance. They may also ask about any other mental health conditions one may have.

Physical examination: A physical exam can help rule out any actual physical abnormalities or deformities. The examiner may also take measurements and photographs of the perceived flaws to document them.

Questionnaires or surveys: There are several questionnaires or surveys that can help diagnose BDD, such as the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Examination or the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale Modified for Body Dysmorphic Disorder. These assessments can help evaluate the severity of symptoms and track progress when undergoing treatment.

Management options
The treatment plan for BDD usually consists of the following options:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): The focus of CBT is to change negative thought patterns and behaviors. A common treatment option for BDD, this therapy can help one challenge their negative beliefs about their appearance. CBT can also help one learn strategies to deal with anxiety.

Prescriptions: A few prescriptions can reduce anxiety and obsessive thoughts, helping relieve symptoms of BDD to an extent.

Support groups: Support groups, such as those offered by the International OCD Foundation, can serve as a safe space for people with BDD to share their experiences and get support from others who understand what they are going through.

Lifestyle changes: Making healthy lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and managing stress, can help improve their overall well-being and reduce symptoms of BDD.

Combination therapy: A combination of the abovementioned treatments may be recommended for severe cases of BDD or for those who do not respond to initial rounds of treatment.

There are several challenges associated with treating BDD. People with this disorder may be hesitant to seek treatment and could be worried about sharing their concerns about physical appearance. Additionally, the first step toward managing the disorder is finding a mental health professional who is well-versed in BDD treatment, which can require a bit of consideration as it is a relatively rare condition. Finally, some people with this condition may not respond to initial treatment or may require additional support to manage their symptoms.

Body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a mental health condition that can impact the quality of life. However, it can be managed through the right treatment, therapy, and lifestyle changes. It is important to identify the early symptoms early on and seek help from a mental health professional. With proper treatment, people with BDD can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.


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