Body dysmorphic disorder also known as dysmorphophobia is a psychological somatoform disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied by the perceived defect in his or her physical features. In other words, this disorder refers to individual’s perception of the aesthetics and sexual attractiveness of their own body. The problem usually arouses when the person’s perception of their own body doesn’t meet the society's standards. In most of the cases, the sufferer from this disorder constantly complains about a specific feature or even a single feature, which affects the normal functioning and often causes a lot of distress to the patient, leading to social isolation, depression and anxiety.
Symptoms of a body dysmorphic disorder
In most of the cases, body dysmorphic disorder starts in adolescence or in early adulthood. In general, this is the period in life when many people start criticizing their own appearance and for some of them this normal stage may get more severe form. According to the official statistics, both men and women are equally affected by a body dysmorphic disorder. An affected person usually has obsessive thoughts, delusions and beliefs about a perceived appearance defect. Anxiety and panic attacks are also common. Most of the affected persons have chronic low self-esteem, strong feelings of shame and increased social phobia. In general, the symptoms of this disorder largely affect the patient’s quality of life. In many cases patients may develop other health problems such as avoidant or dependent personality, problems with relationships and suicidal ideation.
Treatment for body dysmorphic disorder
Treatment for body dysmorphic disorder is very important since this condition always leads to diminished quality of life and may be co-morbid with major depressive disorder and social phobia. About 80% of patients severely affected with body dysmorphic disorder are at increased risk of suicide. Treatment usually includes psychotherapy, medication, or combination of both. The most successful treatment option is a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also known as talking therapy, and it is usually aimed to solve problems in relation to dysfunctional emotions, behaviors and cognitions. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are medications used as antidepressants in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders. This type of medication is used because patients with this disorder tend to have lower levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is also known as a "happiness hormone", even though it is actually a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being.