Concern and obsession are different. Being concerned about the body is good but an obsession with features can lead to body dysmorphic disorder.
Most people bother about some features of their appearance or body at some time, but someone with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) may spend excessive time imagining physical features that are hardly detectable or not evident to others and that concern can grow into an obsession. This situation has little to do with actual physical appearance and may affect an individual’s body self-image, or how they perceive themselves. Dr. Sneha Karmani, Consultant Psychology, Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital, Pune explains more about this psychological disorder, its symptoms and possible ways to treat the condition.
What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
In this condition, a person goes through a lot of preoccupation anxiety over their appearances. Persons with BDD keep discovering defects with their body parts and some just keep thinking about these flaws. Even when somebody around them tries to comfort that they look fine, it is their opinion that doesn't coincide with others and becomes an obsession over their imperfections.
The general areas of concern for people with BDD include:
- Skin flaws: These include wrinkles, marks, acne, and pimples.
- Hair: This might involve head or body hair or loss of hair.
- Facial features: Very often this involves the nose, but it also might involve the shape and area of any facial feature.
- Bodyweight: Patients may obsess about their weight or muscle form.
Other areas of concern include the size of the penis, muscles, chest, legs, buttocks, etc.
Common Body Dysmorphic Disorder Symptoms
Some of the main symptoms of this psychological disorder are:
- Continuously trying to take a selfie for one perfect look
- Suffer from Delusion related to body parts
- Endeavouring cosmetic surgery
- Regularly checking the mirror
- Self-harm, camouflaging body parts with cosmetic, hair and outfits
- Harsh exercising and dieting
- Feeling hopeless and having low self-confidence.
People suffering from this illness don't usually talk about their concerns as they feel there is a social disgrace associated with it. It is normally witnessed at the age where the body changes- mainly during the adolescent years, pregnancy and post-menopause. During the teen times, it is a critical time for the body as it grows majorly and the teens go through a lot of challenges admitting how their body is changing. After pregnancy, ladies assume their bodies go back to normal when they were thin and beautiful. However, that doesn't occur with all body kinds and it's got to do a lot with their lifestyle too. Post-menopause is the period when ladies go through many hormonal changes that begin showing up on their body, some of who can't take it and start haunting over their looks.
Possible Body Dysmorphic Disorder Treatment Options
Psychotherapy: This is a kind of personal counselling that concentrates on improving the thinking (cognitive treatment) and behaviour (behavioural techniques) of a person with body dysmorphic disorder. The aim is to change the wrong impression about the body parts and to reduce compulsive habits and / or anxiety.
Group and/or family treatment: Family support benefits to the patient and crucial to therapy. They are provided psychoeducation regarding BDD to improve their understanding of nature of illness and possible interventions available.
Apart from the aforesaid treatments, counselling and antidepressant medication can improve the patients' condition. Help the patients with BDD to shift their focus from body image to other positive attributes. Self-perception not limited to body appearance can help improve confidence and build a positive self-image. When you see someone showing symptoms of BDD, talk to them and help them come out of the situation.
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