Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health problem. If you have BDD, you may be so upset about the appearance of your body that it gets in the way of your ability to live normally. Many of us have what we think are flaws in our appearance. But if you have BDD, your reaction to this “flaw” may become overwhelming.
You may find that negative thoughts about your body are hard to control. You may even spend hours each day worrying about how you look. Your thinking can become so negative and persistent, you may think about suicide at times.
The cause of body dysmorphic disorder is thought to be a combination of environmental, psychological, and biological factors. Bullying or teasing may create or foster the feelings of inadequacy, shame, and fear of ridicule.
Nobody knows the cause of BDD. It usually begins in your adolescence or teenage years. Experts think that about one of every 100 people has BDD. Men and women are equally affected. Factors that may contribute to BDD include:
You can become obsessed with any part of your body. The most common areas are your face, hair, skin, chest, and stomach.
Symptoms of BDD include:
A mental health professional will diagnose BDD based on your symptoms and how much they affect your life.
To be diagnosed with BDD:
There are other mental health disorders that are common in people with BDD. They include obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
Specific treatment for BDD will be determined by your healthcare provider based on the following:
Treatment for BDD may include talk therapy or medicines. The best treatment is probably a combination of the two. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective talk therapy. In CBT, you work with a mental health professional to replace negative thoughts and thought patterns with positive thoughts. Antidepressant medicines known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors usually work best for BDD.
The best way to prevent BDD from becoming a serious problem is to catch it early. BDD tends to get worse with age. Plastic surgery to correct a body flaw rarely helps. If you have a child or teenager who seems overly worried about his or her appearance and needs constant reassurance, talk with your healthcare provider. If you have symptoms of BDD yourself, talk with your healthcare provider or a mental health professional.
It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for treating your BDD. Treatment for BDD can be a long-term commitment.
If your symptoms get worse or you experience new symptoms, tell your healthcare provider.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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