Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Most people have a feature that they do not like about their appearance and that influences their self perception. It could be a crooked nose, too large or too small eyes, or an uneven smile. Although individual people may fret about their imperfections, the imperfections do not interfere with their normal daily lives. However, persons with body dysmorphic disorder dwell on their perceived imperfections daily for several hours. Such people are never in control of their mental perceptions and tend to disregard other people’s observations about their looks (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Their thoughts may have adverse effects on and interfere with their daily lives and could even lead to emotional upsurge. The victims of this condition may miss school or even work and may avoid social gatherings. Often, they tend to isolate themselves for fear of others taking note of their perceived imperfections. In some cases, they take drastic actions such as plastic surgery to correct their imperfections and improve on their features. Nevertheless, some are never satisfied with the results.
The disorder is often characterized by persons with invasive and stubborn obsessions with trivial defects or imagined flaws in their features. The individual suffering from this condition dislike their imperfections and they find fault with any part of their face or bodies. However, in real life, the imagined defect might be either non-existent or just a slight imperfection. For a person with the body dysmorphic disorder, the flaw is prominent and significant enough to cause stress and difficulties in their normal daily functioning.
The body dysmorphic disorder is often prevalent in adolescents and can start as early as in teenagers of 12-13 years. Research indicates that the condition affects both men and women equally (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). In the U.S., body dysmorphic disorder occurs in approximately 2.5% of males and 2.2% of females. According to the American Psychiatric Association (2013), there are no clear causes of body dysmorphic disorder, but particular environmental and biological circumstances may lead to its development. Additional aspects entail neurobiological factors, genetic disposition, apparent disturbance of the serotonin in the brain, personality characters, and life experience.
Persons suffering from body dysmorphic disorder often focus obsessively on their looks for extended periods of time that may last for many hours, and in worst cases, for days. The body dysmorphic disorder obsessions might be specifically focused on musculature. The individual often experiences difficulty in resisting or controlling these obsessions with their physical flaws. They do not concentrate on any other critical aspect of their lives, but only on their flaws and imperfections. Other signs are the evasion of social events, low self-perception, avoidance of social environments such as work or school. Besides, the individuals experiencing severe body dysmorphic disorder may decide to leave their residences and even consider suicide. Persons with body dysmorphic disorder may show some neurotic habits such as hiding their perceived flaws even though the actions give only short-term relief. These individuals would often try too camouflage their flaws with assuming certain body positions, or with makeup, hair, clothing, and hats. They often tend to compare their own looks and body parts to those of other people.
People with this disorder undergo suffering associated with conditions of anxiety disorder, depression, social disorder emanating from anxiety, and disorders in eating. Sometimes, body dysmorphic disorder is wrongly diagnosed as one of the other related disorders since they exhibit similar symptoms (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). For example, the repetitive conduct and intrusive mentality in the disorder are similar to the pressures and fascinations of obsessive-compulsive disorder, particularly when the repetitive habit and preoccupations concentrate on presentability. People with this disorder avoid social circumstances because they feel ashamed of the way that they look. This symptom affects behavior in a similar way as in people with social anxiety disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
Diagnosis and Treatment
Since the symptoms are similar to the other associated conditions, a trained clinician should be careful and diagnose the condition correctly to avoid misdiagnosis. To get suitable diagnosis and care, the patient must state precise apprehensions and disclose all their concerns about their condition to the healthcare personnel. However, individuals can also perform self-assessment, but the results are limited since it cannot offer a definitive diagnosis.
There are effective treatments available for the condition. Cognitive behavior therapy helps the individual to grasp the significance of the identification of unfounded thoughts, as well as to overcome the negative mentality. The patients are educated on unhealthy mentality and behaviors and to then substitute them with positive perceptions. The individuals suffering from the disorder would also be given antidepressant medications. Antidepressants would influence the serotonin inhibitors in the brain, which would lead to alleviation of compulsive and obsessive signs linked with the disorder. The treatment process is customized for every patient, and therefore, it is critical for the person with the disorder to converse with the healthcare professional to decide on the best approach for treatment. Many doctors recommend the use of a combination of diverse treatments to achieve the best results.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Ed.). Arlington VA: American Psychiatric Association Publishing.