Exploring link between mental illness and body dysmorphic disorder

Exploring link between mental illness and body dysmorphic disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a distinct mental disorder in which a person is obsessed with physical defects, which may or may not exist. People with BDD are unable to stop thinking about the perceived flaws in one’s appearance. Such a person constantly broods over a physical deformity that is either too minor or not observable by others.

Precisely, people are generally obsessed with the three most important body parts, namely nose, skin and hair. The obsession of checking back on one of these body parts is so consuming that it greatly affects a person’s ability to perform day-to-day activities. People with BDD constantly strive to improve their physical appearance, frequently consulting dermatologists or surgeons, and even opting for a plastic surgery to improve their features.

About one percent of the U.S. population has BDD, said a 2014 report published in the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). Thus, it is important to identify the warning signs of BDD and come out of the undesirable feelings, which can ultimately lead to anxiety.

Possible causes of BDD

Although the exact etiology behind BDD is unknown to the researchers, there may be a variety of genetic and environmental causes that may lead to negative perception about oneself. Here are some of the proposed causes of BDD:

  • The size and functioning of a brain portion, which is responsible for processing information related to body image, may give rise to BDD.
  • People with BDD already have a co-occurring mental illness, such as major depression or anxiety.
  • BDD can stem from childhood trauma or emotional conflicts while growing up.
  • People who suffer from low self-esteem may also struggle with BDD.
  • People who were constantly belittled by parents, siblings or peers regarding their physical appearance, may go on to develop BDD in the future.

Complications associated with BDD

People with BDD develop acute complex due to their perceived physical abnormality, which can result in isolation and reclusive behavior. This can have a serious impact on a person’s school, college or professional life, and even on his or her close relationships.

The desire to appear flawless and perfect can be so strong in these individuals that it can elicit suicidal tendencies in them, and can also lead to humongous financial crisis, since these individuals are constantly seeking medical advice and turning to surgery to rectify their so-called morphological anomalies. Moreover, chronic BDD can result in serious depression or anxiety.

Treating BDD

Often, people with BDD live in a denial and fail to acknowledge their obsessive behavior when confronted. However, upon self-realization or mediation, they might accept that they do have a problem and therefore, need help. BDD management involves a combination of medication, psychotherapy, family therapy and other customized services.

Moreover, loved ones can be vigilant enough to identify obsessive symptoms in an individual and help him or her inculcate a positive outlook toward his or her physical appearance. Parents and teachers must be mindful of never discriminating between children based on their physical appearances because this can lead to serious mental illnesses and body shaming.

Road to recovery

While support and encouragement from family and friends are inevitable, one should not undermine the role of professional assistance when it comes to mental disorders. Self-therapy sessions may also be recommended for reviewing skills and inculcating more acceptance of the body.

If you know someone who is suffering from BDD, or any other mental health condition, get in touch with the California Mental Health Helpline. Our mental health experts will guide you to the best mental health facilities in California. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 or chat online to know about the best mental health treatment centers in California.

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