Causes of BDD in Men
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, the standard reference for all psychiatric disorders, classifies body dysmorphic disorder as a somatoform disorder. This means that in this illness, psychological problems take the form of physical symptoms. However, BDD is quite similar in features to obsessive-compulsive disorder since there is a preoccupation with one's appearance followed by compulsive behaviors such as excessive exercising or repeatedly looking into the mirror. When weight and diet are major concerns, this condition takes the form of an eating disorder.
The causes of BDD in men can be both neurobiological and psychosocial. Some studies have found that the levels of a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin are lower than normal in such individuals. Medications found to be effective in the treatment of OCD have also been found to work for muscle dysmorphia in men which further proves that there may be a link with OCD, and that there may be a probable biological cause of this body image disorder.
Exposure to mass media can be a psychosocial cause of BDD in men. At a young age, men are exposed to images of what are considered to be perfect images of the male form. This, in turn, can lead to low self-esteem and causes them to believe that anything less than what they see in magazines or on TV is imperfect. They, thus, develop distorted perceptions of their own faces and bodies which is called body dysmorphic disorder.
Children with parents who are excessively concerned about their appearance or are highly critical of their looks are also more likely to develop BDD. It is also believed that buried feelings about childhood trauma or abuse could take the form of obsession with a part of one's body.
Treatment for body dysmorphic disorder in men is difficult since they are convinced that the defects are indeed present and are excessive. However, once they are able to recognize that they indeed have a problem, cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy can indeed prove to be beneficial for the individual concerned.