Body Dysmorphic Disorder: What You Need to Know

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Body dysmorphic disorder is a chronic psychological disorder affecting 1 to 2% of the population, and affecting both men and women in equal proportions.

People affected by BDD have a preoccupation or obsession with a perceived or minor flaw in their physical appearance, and most, if not all, of their self worth is reliant on their appearance. To this end, people with BDD will perform repetitive and ritualistic behaviors to hide, check and improve the perceived flaw, often seeking dermatological and cosmetic surgical treatments to "fix" what they see as a problem.

Quite often more than one physical attribute will be focused on at any given time, and once they have either "corrected" or removed it, another attribute will become the focus. Sufferers of body dysmorphic disorder will frequently seek reassurance regarding their "flaw," and often become obsessed with alternatively checking their appearance in mirrors, or avoiding mirrors and reflective surfaces altogether. Rarely will a person with BDD seek help independently, not realizing that their preoccupation is unhealthy, rather than habitual.

BDD is treatable, and success has been shown using both psychotherapy and psychiatric medication once the disorder has been diagnosed. Unfortunately, BDD is often misdiagnosed due to the sufferer's obsession with hiding their flaw, or drawing attention to another aspect of themselves. Successful psychotherapy can include cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavior modification and family systems therapy.