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Body Dysmorphia

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental health condition in which one can't stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in one's appearance — flaws that appear minor or can't be seen by others. However, one may feel so embarrassed, ashamed, and anxious that one may avoid social situations. With the prevalence of social media, these feelings of inadequacy are becoming more frequent. It is challenging because social media is the primary information source for many people constantly exposed to unrealistic standards. 

BDD affects about 2.5% of the population, primarily women. Individuals with BDD have a markedly increased risk for suicidality. Approximately 80% of those with BDD report that they have experienced suicidal thoughts, and about one in four or more have attempted suicide.

Written by: Dr. David Mir, MD

Edited By: Hedyeh Afshar

November 28, 2023

More Signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include:

  • Attempting to hide perceived flaws with styling, makeup, or clothing.

  • Constantly comparing your appearance with others.

  • Frequently seeking reassurance about your appearance from others.

  • Having perfectionist tendencies.

  • Seeking cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction.

  • Avoiding social situations.

So, the question is, how can we treat this disorder? 

Recognition is key in the treatment of BDD. Once recognized, discussing with your primary care doctor is a significant first step in getting treatment. Your primary care doctor can treat or refer you to a mental health specialist. Immediate treatment should be initiated, particularly in vulnerable adolescents. 

Treatment involves professional psychological counseling alone and in groups where patients can identify with others and know their battles are not fought alone.

Psychiatric medications have little value unless there are underlying comorbid conditions, such as depression or bipolar disorder, as a few examples.

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