Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD, also body dysmorphia, dysmorphic syndrome; originally dysmorphophobia) is a type of mental illness, a somatoform disorder, wherein the affected person is concerned with body image, manifested as excessive concern about and preoccupation with a perceived defect of their physical features.
Researchers looked at a number of physically painful BDD-related behaviors, including food restriction, excessive exercise, BDD-related cosmetic surgery, compulsive skin picking and physical self-mutilation. Of all of these behaviors, only restrictive food intake was associated with more than double the number of suicide attempts, while those with a history of BDD-related excessive exercise had less than half the number of suicide attempts.
According to Science Codex, more than 75 percent of people with body dysmorphic disorder feel life is not worth living or think about suicide in their lifetime. Approximately 25 percent of BDD sufferers have a history of at least one suicide attempt.
Patients with body dysmorphic disorder may also be aggressive or violent toward property or other people because of their symptoms (for example, because of anger about looking "deformed" or the belief that someone mocked them) (1, 5, 12). Occasionally, surgeons and dermatologists may be victims of violence—even murder—fueled by dissatisfaction with the outcome of cosmetic procedures (1, 12).
There's no sure way to prevent body dysmorphic disorder. Because body dysmorphic disorder often starts in adolescence, identifying children at risk of the condition and starting treatment early may be of some benefit. In addition, taking steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and to boost low self-esteem may help. And long-term maintenance treatment also may help prevent a relapse of body dysmorphic disorder symptoms.
“People with Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) are concerned, to a level that is above any normal range of concern, with some aspect of their appearance,” says Luanne Kea, a Psychology instructor, at South University’s Columbia campus. “Their concern or anxiety over their deformity keeps them from social (outings), work, or relational events and experiences.”
For example, Kea says that a person with BDD, who otherwise enjoys social settings such as family reunions, would create reasons not to attend such functions, because they don’t want their perceived deformity to be seen, stared at, or talked about by others.
Men and women are affected equally, but in men BDD often takes the special form of “muscle dysmorphia.” These men can never be muscular enough. No matter how much they work out, they feel puny. They are often anxious and depressed, compulsive about workouts and diet. They are prone to eating disorders and may abuse anabolic steroids.
People with BDD frequently compare their appearance to others and check their appearance in mirrors or other reflective surfaces. They often camouflage their perceived flaw with make-up, hair, or clothing. They may change their body position to only allow people to see them from certain angles or in certain lightinig conditions. Other behaviors include mirror avoidance, skin picking and seeking out dermatologists or plastic surgeons with the hope they can overcome the distress by changing the perceived defect.
A new study finds that while many who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) seek cosmetic procedures, only two percent of procedures actually reduced the severity of BDD. Despite this poor long-term outcome, physicians continue to provide requested surgeries to people suffering from BDD.
Fortunately, BDD can be successfully treated with medication and psychotherapy. In fact, both cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs or SRIs) are considered the first line of treatment for BDD, according to Jennifer L. Greenberg, Psy.D, Clinical and Research Fellow in Psychology (Psychiatry) at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.
But Reinardy does list indicators. "If it's something that's, 'Oh, I'm not going to be pretty unless I have these things,' and it's really a firmly held belief that causes a lot of anxiety, then I would definitely look more into body dysmorphic disorder," she says. In women, this condition has two very common symptoms, she says: obsession with the nose or pore size.