Specialty Programs - Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
WHAT IS BDD?
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a serious illness when a person is preoccupied with minor or imaginary physical flaws, usually of the skin, hair, and nose. A person with BDD tends to have cosmetic surgery, and even if the surgeries are successful, does not think they are and is unhappy with the outcomes.
Some people with mild symptoms of BDD can function well, despite the stress they feel. For others, the illness can get so serious that they may be unable to work, socialize, or leave their homes. They worry that they look ugly, or that people will laugh at them. Some even commit suicide.
Getting cosmetic surgery can make BDD worse. They are often not happy with the outcome of the surgery. If they are, they may start to focus attention on another body area and become preoccupied trying to fix the new “defect.” In this case, some patients with BDD become angry at the surgeon for making their appearance worse and may even become violent towards the surgeon.
Source: The National Women's Health Information Center
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
What are some of the other symptoms of BDD?
People with BDD may complain of several specific features or a single feature, or a vague feature or general appearance, causing psychological distress that impairs important functioning (e.g. occupational or self-care) or social aspects of life.
Most people wish that they could change or improve some aspect of their physical appearance; but people suffering from BDD, generally of normal or even highly attractive appearance, believe that they are so unspeakably hideous that they are unable to interact with others or function normally for fear of ridicule and humiliation about their appearance. They tend to be very secretive and reluctant to seek help because they fear that others will think them vain or because they feel too embarrassed.
Other symptoms may include:
Why is BDD often linked to OCD?
BDD combines obsessive and compulsive aspects, linking it, among psychologists, to the OCD-spectrum disorders. People with BDD may compulsively look at themselves in the mirror or avoid mirrors, typically think about their appearance for at least one hour a day (and usually more), and in severe cases may drop all social contact and responsibilities as they become homebound. The disorder is linked to an unusually high suicide rate among all mental disorders.
How many people suffer from BDD?
A German study has shown that 1–2% of the population meet all the diagnostic criteria of BDD, with a larger percentage showing milder symptoms of the disorder (Psychological Medicine, vol 36, p 877). BDD is diagnosed equally in men and women.
What are some disorders associated with BDD?
A similar disorder, gender-identity disorder, in which the patient is upset with his or her entire sexual biology, often precipitates BDD-like feelings being directed specifically at external sexually dimorphic features, which are in constant conflict with the patient's internal psychiatric gender.
What is the course of BDD?
BDD usually develops in adolescence, a time when people are generally most sensitive about their appearance. However, many patients suffer for years before seeking help. When they do seek help through mental health professionals, patients often complain of other symptoms such as depression, social anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder, but do not reveal their real concern over body image. Most patients cannot be convinced that they have a distorted view of their body image, due to the very limited knowledge of the disorder as compared to OCD or others.
An absolute cause of body dysmorphic disorder is unknown. However research shows that a number of factors may be involved and that they can occur in combination, including:
How disabling is BDD?
BDD can be anywhere from slightly to severely
debilitating. It can make normal employment or family life
impossible. Those who are in regular employment or who have family
responsibilities would almost certainly find life more productive
and satisfying if they did not have the symptoms. The partners of
sufferers of BDD may also become involved and suffer greatly,
sometimes losing their loved one to suicide.
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