Most have us have identified something that we do not like about ourselves. Perhaps your single eye-lids, a nose that is too big or your thin lips? No matter what the imperfections are, many still choose ensure that they do not get in the way of their daily lives.
However, there are also a group of people are unable to control such negative thoughts about their body. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a psychological disorder whereby an individual gets too ‘caught up’ with his or her flaws and this can cause emotional distress and affect their daily life. BDD is a condition which affects both men and women.
Individuals with BDD are preoccupied with perceived flaws in their physical appearance and these perceived flaws are not noticeable to other individuals. It makes them excessively self-conscious. They would check their appearance repeatedly and try to alter the imperfections that they see.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) can severely affect a person’s relationship with family members and friends, their ability to focus on studies or work, and sometimes their ability to function independently because they feel so ashamed and embarrassed to leave the house.
Usually Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) emerges among adolescents (age 12 and 13 years old). Two thirds of individuals with BDD will have characteristics of BDD before they are 18 years old. The body of adolescents goes through major changes during puberty. This can further amplify body image concerns and may develop into BDD. Nevertheless, BDD may continue into adulthood. This condition is common among both males and females. Although, there might be gender differences in the type of perceived flaws in their physical appearances.
The prevalence of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is 2.4% among adults in United States (2.5% in females and 2.2% in males). Similar prevalence rate is found in other countries as well. It is more prevalent among dermatology patients (9 to 15%) and cosmetic surgery patients (7 to 8%).
While there is no specific cause for Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), it is believed that BDD may result from a combination of causes. They include abnormalities in the brain structure, having first-degree relatives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD), life experiences and culture especially if they involve negative social evaluations about the person’s body or self-image, childhood neglect and abuse would also increase the risk of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).
Men are more likely than women to be concerned with issues involving penis size, and height, but preoccupations with muscles are the most common among men. Due to this, they are less likely than women to work due to the distress BDD caused in their lives. These men may be fully focused on the amount of muscles they have and the muscles they see on the bodies around them.
They may think of themselves as tiny and weak, even when they are able to pick up hundreds of kilograms of weight. Men like these may not be able to keep a steady job simply because they must spend so much time on the development and maintenance of muscles, spending long hours at the gym, lifting weights and working out.
Muscle dysmorphia is a form of BDD occurring almost exclusively in males. These men are preoccupied with the idea that their body is too small or insufficiently muscular. Most of them exercise and diet excessively, use potentially health hazardous anabolic-androgenic steroids and other substances to make their body bigger.
Antidepressants, such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), are considered the first-line medication treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). SSRIs help reduce obsessive thoughts in relation to flaws in physical appearances and compulsive behaviors (for example checking themselves out in the mirror and excessive exercising).
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another effective component of treatment for men with BDD. Individuals are typically asked to identify and examine the significant events that stand at the beginning of the behavior. They learn how to handle an urge to check and change their body. They are also encouraged to identify the negative emotions that trigger the urge to check or change their body, and use alternatives to soothe the distress.
On average, insights regarding Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) beliefs are poor. One third or more of individuals with BDD have delusional BDD beliefs, which further increases their morbidity risks. The distress that BDD causes can also lead to anger and suicidal thinking. Individuals with BDD may become housebound due to shame over their perceived appearance flaws, which can lead to the neglect of important social and occupational activities.
The awareness about Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is low among South East Asians. Individuals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) often feel ashamed and embarrassed with their physical appearances, and most of them truly believe there is something wrong about their physical appearances. Thus, they’re less likely to talk about it or to seek for help.
Besides that, many who sought medical treatment (such as cosmetic surgery and dermatology treatment) for their perceived flaws may go from one doctor to another doctor.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is not a condition which solely affects men. Women too suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) but a lady’s concern may differ from a man. Women are more likely to be concerned with issues involving skin, facial features, and breasts size.
They may complain of a lack of symmetry or out of proportion to the rest of the body, they check themselves in the mirror excessively and they are more likely to seek medical treatment for the perceived defect, such as dermatology and cosmetic surgery repeatedly but yet feel dissatisfied with the treatment results.
People with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) often ask this question: “What if I have a ‘real’ defect?”. The key here is that BDD is a problem of excessive worries and shame about one’s appearance that persists despite reassurance. A ‘real’ defect that others can easily notice can also cause marked distress. You may not have BDD but you can still be helped to feel and function better.