Body Dysmorphic Disorder - Symptoms, causes and treatment

Body dysmorphic disorder or body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder characterized by symptoms in the form of excessive anxiety about weakness or lack of physical appearance..

Body dysmorphic disorder is more common at the age of 15 to 30 years. Sufferers of this condition often feel embarrassed and restless because they think they are bad, thus avoiding various social situations. In addition, sufferers also often undergo plastic surgery to improve their appearance.

Body dysmorphic disorder is similar to an eating disorder in that it has a negative outlook and anxiety over physical appearance. However, anxiety in this disorder is not about weight and body shape as a whole, but physical deficiencies in certain body parts, for example wrinkled skin, hair loss, large thighs, or a snub nose.

Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

People with body dysmorphic disorder have negative thoughts or feelings of anxiety about the lack of one or more body parts. Negative thoughts that can arise because the sufferer considers the shape of his body is not ideal. Parts of the body that sufferers are often worried about include:

  • Face, for example because the nose is too snub.
  • Skin, for example because there are wrinkles, acne, or wounds.
  • Hair, for example due to thinning hair, falling out, or going bald.
  • Breasts or genitals, for example because the penis is too small or the breasts are too big.
  • Legs, for example because of the large size of the thigh.

There are several symptoms or behaviors that can be a sign that a person has body dysmorphic disorder, including:

  • Reflecting over and over for a long time.
  • Hiding limbs that are considered imperfect.
  • Asking others to reassure him over and over again that his flaws are not too obvious.
  • Repeatedly measuring or touching areas of the body that are considered imperfect.

Body dysmorphic disorder can also occur when excessive anxiety arises because you think your body is too small, too thin, or not muscular enough. Symptoms that can appear in conditions like this are:

  • Too much exercise for a long time.
  • Excessive consumption of nutritional supplements.
  • Abusing steroids.

When to go to the doctor

People with body dysmorphic disorder can repeatedly consult a doctor to find ways to improve their appearance. However, the purpose of the patient's consultation to be less precise.

You should consult a psychiatrist if you notice any inappropriate behavior in assessing your appearance, especially if the behavior has:

  • Interfere with work, school performance, or relationships with others.
  • Loss of desire to go out in public and feeling anxious around other people.

This condition can lead to severe depression and suicidal ideation.

Causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The main cause of body dysmorphic disorder is not known with certainty. Even so, this condition is thought to arise due to a combination of the following factors:

  • Genetics

    According to research, body dysmorphic disorder is more common in people who have a family history of the disease. However, it is not certain whether this condition is inherited genetically or due to upbringing and the environment.

  • Abnormalities of brain structure

    Abnormalities in the structure of the brain or the compounds in it are thought to cause body dysmorphic disorder.

  • Environment

    Negative judgments from the environment on the sufferer's self-image, bad experiences in the past, or trauma in childhood can cause a person to experience body dysmorphic disorder.

In addition to the factors that cause the above, there are several conditions that can trigger the emergence of body dysmorphic disorder, including:

  • Have another mental disorder, such as an anxiety disorder or depression.
  • Having certain traits, such as perfectionism or low self-esteem.
  • Have parents or family who are overly critical of their appearance.

DiagnosisBody Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder is often difficult to detect because many sufferers feel shy and tend to hide this disorder. However, doctors will usually refer patients who repeatedly ask for plastic surgery to a psychiatrist.

To find out the cause and provide appropriate treatment, the psychiatrist will assess the patient's mental condition by:

  • Ask about the history of medical conditions and social relationships of patients and their families.
  • Conduct a psychological evaluation to determine the risk factors, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with the patient's negative view of himself.

Handling Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Efforts to treat body dysmorphic disorder are carried out with a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

This therapy aims to identify the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. With this therapy, patients are expected to be able to develop the ability to overcome the problems they face. This therapy focuses on:

  • Correcting false beliefs about the patient's physical weakness or deficiency.
  • Minimizing compulsive behavior (doing an action repeatedly).
  • Cultivate better attitudes and behaviors regarding self-image and physical appearance.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can also be done in groups. Especially for cases of body dysmorphic disorder in children and adolescents, this behavior therapy needs to involve parents and families.

Administration of drugs

So far, no drug has been found that can treat body dysmorphic disorder. However, antidepressant drugs serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) can be given to reduce obsessive thoughts and behaviors in sufferers.

This drug is prescribed by a doctor if behavioral therapy has not been able to overcome the disorder experienced by the patient, or if the symptoms body dysmorphic disorder getting worse. SSRI drugs can be given as a single therapy or in combination with other drugs and behavioral therapy.

If you want to stop taking SSRI drugs, the dose should be reduced gradually. Stopping the drug suddenly can cause symptoms body dysmorphic disorder reappear.

Other drugs that can be given are antipsychotic drugs, such as: olanzapine and aripiprazole. Antipsychotic drugs can be given alone or in combination with SSRI drugs.

If cognitive behavioral therapy and administration of antidepressant drugs have not improved the patient's condition after 12 weeks, the psychiatrist can change the type of antidepressant medication.

In severe cases, patients need to be treated in a hospital, for example, if they cannot carry out daily activities or have the potential to endanger themselves.

Complications of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Complications that can arise in patients with body dysmorphic disorder include:

  • Health problems related to habits that are carried out repeatedly, such as pricking the skin.
  • Depression.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • Drug abuse.