Body image signifies the mental perception of one’s physical attributes including appearance, shape, and size. In addition, it also signifies one’s attitude towards their physical attributes like feelings, thoughts, and beliefs about one’s own body. Multiple factors can have an influence over body image such as media, culture, and interactions with friends and family. Oftentimes, it is a reflection of people, information, and experiences.
People with healthy body image see themselves accurately, most of the time. They are very comfortable about their body and how they look. An unhealthy or a negative body image can cause debilitating anxiety and low self-esteem leading to the development of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). It can also affect one’s quality of life and day-to-day functionality.
BDD is a mental illness in which a person obsesses over their body image and physical appearance. This obsession might continue for hours a day causing extreme distress due to some perceived flaws. A lot of people have distorted images of their body in their heads. Mostly women struggle with this negativity since they are raised to be beauty-conscious. However, men may also harbor such feelings. Sometimes, people might indulge in excessive exercising, skin picking, or undergo surgical procedures to achieve the “perfect” body image, leading to avoidable bodily injuries and infections.
Some of the areas of concern for people grappling with BDD are:
Skin imperfections like wrinkles, acne, scars, etc.
Hair complications like dissatisfaction with the length and texture of hair, or absence of hair
Physical aspects like body weight, muscle tone, and so on
Size of penis, breasts, and body odor
Warning Symptoms of BDD
People may develop the symptoms of body image distortion when they feel that they do not “match” the perceived standards of body. Gradually, their dissatisfaction for their bodies starts growing and affective them on a daily basis. Some of the symptoms displayed by such people could be:
Indulging in time-consuming and repetitive acts like constantly looking in the mirror, concealing a skin flaw, picking at the skin, etc.
Seeking constant reassurance that the defect is not too visible.
Repeatedly touching the flawed area.
Developing problems at school or work and relationships because the focus is entirely on the perceived flaw.
Feeling self-conscious and insecure when around people.
Consulting plastic surgeons or dermatologists repeatedly to treat their perceived flaws and improvise appearance.
Developing depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and self-disgust.
Finding it difficult to concentrate.
Isolating themselves from social settings and romantic relationships.
Developing eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating.
Likely to abuse alcohol and drugs to cope.
Causes of BDD
Some researchers suggest that BDD is caused by an impairment of the size or functioning of some areas of brain responsible for processing information regarding the appearance of the body. BDD also co-occurs in people struggling with other mental illnesses like anxiety or depression.
Other than that, experiencing traumatic events or dealing with emotional conflict in the growing up years may also contribute to BDD. Low self-esteem, parents and others critical of one’s appearance, and peer pressure among others can also lead to the development of BDD.
Diagnosis and Treatment of BDD
People struggling with BDD are often too embarrassed to disclose their problems to a doctor. As a result, the disorder often remains unidentified. However, one of the most indicative behavior is repeatedly enquiring about plastic surgery to correct the perceived flaws. To accurately diagnose a case of BDD, a psychiatrist or a mental health specialist looks into the complete history of the patient with a focus on physical examination.
Treatment of BDD comprises medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and citalopram have shown to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of BDD.
CBT can drastically change the way a person behaves by challenging their thinking and belief system. It can help a person delve deeper into why they are thinking a certain way and how it is affecting their behavior. With the help of this therapy, a person can conquer their negative thoughts and evolve into more positive and realistic beings. CBT also enables one to handle their urges, like checking oneself out in the mirror, in a more constructive manner.
BDD Treatment at Medical Concierge
The mental health specialists at the behavioral health center of Medical Concierge recognize the complexity and seriousness of BDD and offer comprehensive services and treatment interventions to help heal the symptoms and the underlying causes simultaneously.
BDD is often associated with other mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, panic, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Medical Concierge’s multidisciplinary team considers each unique case of BDD to develop a comprehensive and personalized recovery plan designed to treat all aspects of the self – mind, body, and spirit to ensure long-lasting recovery.
To learn more about the available treatment programs for BDD, call our 24/7 mental health treatment helpline (877) 636-0042 and speak with a member from our admissions team. They would be able to guide you through the admissions process ensuring a smooth start to your journey of recovery. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.
Medical Concierge offers quality, innovative and compassionate care for mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders. We also offer alumni services and continuing care to ensure sustained recovery.