Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health disorder characterized by a preoccupation with perceived defects or flaws in one’s appearance, which are either minor or not even noticeable to others. BDD can lead to significant distress and impairment in social, occupational, and other areas of functioning. The disorder affects both men and women equally and often begins in adolescence or early adulthood.
Diagnosis of BDD involves a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation, which includes a detailed medical and psychological history, and a physical examination. The diagnostic criteria for BDD include the presence of preoccupation with perceived physical defects or flaws that are not noticeable or are only minor, significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning, and repetitive behaviors, such as excessive grooming or checking of one’s appearance. In some cases, the use of standardized questionnaires may be helpful in assessing the severity of symptoms.
The treatment of BDD typically involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective psychotherapy for BDD, and it aims to help individuals identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs about their appearance. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is another effective treatment approach that involves gradually exposing individuals to situations that trigger their anxiety about their appearance and preventing them from engaging in compulsive behaviors. Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have also been found to be effective in reducing BDD symptoms. The key to successful treatment is early intervention, as untreated BDD can lead to significant distress and functional impairment.
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