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What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

written by: Rafael • edited by: Rhonda Callow • updated: 9/25/2009

Did you know that there are people with constant worries about their appearance and believing that they have little defects over their bodies? Learn about Body Dysmorphic Disorder, its symptoms, causes, and treatments.

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    What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

    Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is another poorly understood eating disorder grouped on the category of EDNOS (Eating disorders Otherwise Not Specified). These are rare eating disorders that have just begun to fly under the medical establishment and are difficult to diagnose and treat. It is classified as a mental or psychological disorder

    People with body dysmorphic disorder are constantly worried about their appearance and more specifically about real or perceived little defects in their bodies. People with BDD may believe that their nose is too big or that their bodies are asymmetrical. Other flaws commonly seen by BDD patients are the man's penis size, the woman's breast size, thighs, buttocks, and the presence of body odors. It is very common for people with BDD to go through countless plastic surgeries to supposedly “fix” her (or his) defect and never be satisfied with the outcomes of their surgeries.

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    Body Dysmorphic Disorder Causes

    The exact causes of BDD are not known. The Mayo Clinic website indicates that there are certain factors that related to an increased risk of developing body dysmorphic disorder. Among these: family history, children being teased a lot in their infancy, physically or sexually abused children, people who have low self-esteem, or have social pressures to look good. However, some researchers believe that BDD has to do with neurotransmitters in the brain. This is because many people who experience body dysmorphic disorder are also suffering from major depression or anxiety.

    Among BDD sufferers it is also common to have suicidal thoughts and behaviors, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social fears or phobia, drug/alcohol abuse, eating disorders. Staying at home all of the time is very common for people with BDD.

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    Body Dysmorphic Disorder Treatment

    Treatment of BDD includes psychotherapy and the use of certain antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft. Also, it is very useful to utilize cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy and behavioral modification. The whole set of psychological treatments seek to help the patient correct the false about themselves and to minimize the compulsive behaviors.

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    Domino, F (2007) The 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.USA

    Mayo clinic website