Body Dsymorphic Disorder (BDD) - Psychotherapy Treatments for Poor Self Image NYC, New York

Therapy: Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

"Imagined Ugliness"

Body Dysmorphic Disorder, BDD, is a crippling condition that involves excessive pre-occupation and worry about the ugliness of one or more body parts that may or may not exaggerate a slight defect. It equally affects males and females and is often hidden from family and friends for many years. Mostly focused on skin, hair and facial features, body shape such as breasts, thighs and weight can also be targeted. Diversion or camouflage is common, for instance, shaving one’s head to hide a perceived defect in one’s chin or incessant grooming rituals like brushing hair to one side to cover perceived asymmetrical eyebrows. Mirror gazing or avoidance is common or constant requests for reassurance from others. Sometimes, attempts at self-surgery are tried, often leaving scars much more severe than the original perceived defect. Other obsessive concern can be concentrated on achieving “tan enough” skin , large muscles leading to steroid abuse, increasingly lighter shades of blonde hair , endless series of hair removal or intense skin picking to eliminate blemishes.

Exacerbated by unattainable media images of beauty, social avoidance and extreme isolation can develop as a result of BDD. Depression is also common as is a high rate of suicide and suicidal attempts. Many individuals suffering from BDD turn toward a myriad of cosmetic procedures, however, the surgeries do not appear to improve body image or self-esteem and can lead to financial devastation and increased exposure to surgical error.

BDD is thought to be biochemically related to serotonin levels in the brain and somewhat similar to that of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Various SSRI’s have been effective in the reduction of symptoms of BDD. Recent research indicates that BDD sufferers may have deficits in visual-spatial processing where detail is more prominent than global perception. Genetic propensity may also be a factor in the expression of BDD coupled with biological and environmental influences. Recent research also indicates that BDD may be related to sexual and physical abuse as well as teasing and ridicule suffered especially during adolescence. Therefore, trauma may be a significant risk factor for the development of BDD.

Focus of psychotherapy treatment for BDD is usually concentrated on learning methods for re-appraisal and limiting time spent obsessing. However, due to the correlation with relationally traumatic events, some BDD patients may need, in addition, a more exploratory approach to understanding the unique meaning their bodies hold within the context of their overall development , subjective experiences and shame states.

Unhappy Woman Looking at Her Face in a Mirror