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What is body dysmorphia, what are the symptoms and what is the correct treatment

Feeling uncomfortable with your body to the point that you can’t stand small “flaws” in yourself, avoiding social interactions and obsessing over details of your own image can be alerts to a much bigger problem: body dysmorphia. Want to learn more about the subject? So, check out all the professional explanations below:

What is body dysmorphia?

Also known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), body dysmorphia is a disorder that can cause several problems in the lives of those who live with it and need to deal with it. According to psychologist Lilian Vasconcelos Félix (CRP 04/32367), BDD “is ​​characterized by a distorted perception of body image and a preoccupation with an imaginary defect in appearance or an exaggerated unease in relation to identified bodily imperfections. , which manifests itself with repetitive, obsessive, or avoidant behaviors”.

In this disorder, the person does not recognize their defect as minimal or non-existent, leading them to behaviors such as social isolation (avoiding events or situations where they believe they would be exposed) and attempts at camouflage (with makeup, clothes, gestures, etc.). Other behaviors that are very characteristic of BDD are: comparing yourself to other people, constantly examining the “defect” in the mirror or avoiding it, performing plastic surgeries and aesthetic treatments, among others.

Currently, this disorder is classified as a manifestation of the so-called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) spectrum, due to the presence of compulsive thoughts and behaviors. “When a person becomes very upset, distressed, worried and starts to have losses due to their imaginary defects or a small physical anomaly, a diagnosis of BDD can be considered”, says the psychologist.

Causes of body dysmorphia

When associated with OCD, body dysmorphia may be related to anxiety and depression, thus, it may be a comorbidity of a mood disorder. “That’s why a well-performed investigation is necessary, by a competent professional who can guide the best conduct, as well as perform a differential diagnosis for other disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa”, emphasizes Lilian.

Still according to the professional, “studies and clinical practice also suggest the need to investigate the history of development and emergence of symptoms to understand the influence of previous learning and experiences that reinforced this pattern of behavior, making them repetitive”.

In other words: learning throughout development, beliefs we form, social demands, among others, influence the development of the disorder, in addition to the predisposition and susceptibility of each individual, considering genetic factors for the development of mental disorders.

Symptoms of body dysmorphia

To make the diagnosis of BDD, according to the psychologist Lilian, four criteria must necessarily be present:

  • Excessive concern about some bodily “defect”: The individual is preoccupied with a defect in physical appearance (which is unobservable or appears to be minimal to others) and, if a minor anomaly is present, is excessively concerned about it.
  • Repetitive Behaviors: During the course of the illness, the individual performs repetitive behaviors (e.g., mirror checks, neurotic excoriation, and asking friends and family for the opinion of the defect) or mental acts (e.g., comparing his or her appearance to that of others ) in response to appearance issues.
  • Stress and/or impairment in social life: Excessive worry leads to significant stress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of a person’s life.
  • Complaints are not characterized as other disorders: These complaints cannot be characterized as another mental disorder, such as anorexia nervosa.

In a simpler way, we can highlight: low self-esteem, excessive concern with certain parts of the body, always looking in the mirror to check one’s appearance or avoiding the mirror altogether. The disorder is more common in young women, but it can also affect men! So stay tuned: if you notice these symptoms together, seek the help of a professional. He is the best person to guide you!

How to treat body dysmorphia

Okay, but how does the treatment for body dysmorphia work? Is there treatment? The answer is yes! It can help – and a lot – in your quality of life. According to the psychologist, “the most suitable approach for this disorder is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with EPR techniques and, in some cases, a drug combination for a better result”.

“About having a cure, in relation to BDD it’s the same thing we say to our OCD patients: it depends! It depends on what you understand by healing. If being cured for you means living free from obsessions, taking back control of your life, with symptoms stabilized and no longer impeding your global functioning, we say yes, there is a cure. But if your expectation is never to have the symptoms again, the answer is no. The BDD patient should always maintain care and put into practice everything learned in therapy, preventing symptoms from reappearing in moments of greater anxiety, stress or important changes in their life.”, emphasizes Lilian.

Taking care of yourself is the greatest act of love a woman can perform! There’s no such thing as – and don’t be ashamed of – seeking professional help. Keep learning about another disorder that, when left unattended and untreated, can cause a lot of problems in your life, OCD.

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only. They do not replace the advice and follow-up of doctors, nutritionists, psychologists, physical education professionals and other specialists.

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