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You may be asking, what is body dysmorphic disorder? Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health disorder characterized by a preoccupation with a perceived physical defect or flaw. Typically these flaws are minor and imperceivable to others. However, a person with BDD often feels so embarrassed, anxious, or ashamed that they avoid social situations or take extreme measures like plastic surgery to modify perceived problems or improve their appearance.

Atlanta Center for Mental Health is a free-standing, non-hospital-setting residential facility that treats co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders along with primary mental health diagnoses. Our goal is to transform the lives of our clients and put them on the path to wellness and recovery. Choosing a residential mental health treatment program for BDD allows you to focus on body dysmorphic disorder treatment. We provide you with a variety of different dual diagnosis treatments, to help you live a better life. Contact us at 833.625.0458 to learn more.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) Definition

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), BDD is defined as a preoccupation with an imagined defect in appearance. BDD can involve any body part but typically focus on the face and head.

BDD shares some features with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders. People with OCD have distressing thoughts, fears, or images they cannot control that result in an urgent need to perform a particular action. With BDD, a person’s preoccupation can lead them to engage in ritualistic behaviors such as picking or constant grooming. Whereas eating disorders focus on overall weight and body shape, BDD focuses on a particular body part or feature. With BDD, people can become so obsessed with the perceived defect that it impacts their daily functioning.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder can include:

  • Engaging in repetitive and time-consuming behaviors such as looking in the mirror, picking at skin, or trying to hide or cover up the perceived defect
  • Constantly seeking reassurance that the defect is not too visible
  • The firm belief that the defect appears ugly or deformed
  • A belief that others take notice of the perceived defect and mock it
  • Constantly comparing personal appearance to others
  • Having cosmetic procedures or plastic surgery with little satisfaction in the outcomes
  • Self-consciousness that leads to uncomfortable or avoided social situations

The obsessive thoughts that come with BDD are often unwanted, difficult to control, and so time-consuming that they interfere with daily functioning. People with BDD can excessively focus on one or more body parts, and the focus can change over time. The most common areas that those with BDD concentrate on include:

  • Skin and vein appearance
  • Facial features, especially the nose
  • Breast size
  • Muscle tone and size
  • Genitalia
  • Hair texture or thickness

Insight about BDD varies between individuals, from being aware that beliefs are excessive or untrue to being firmly convinced of them. The more convinced someone is about their belief, the more disruptive BDD becomes.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder Treatment

At the Atlanta Center for Mental Health, body dysmorphic disorder treatment is individualized to meet your specific needs. BDD treatment typically involves a combination of:

  • Psychotherapy – Individual counseling for BDD involves cognitive and behavioral therapies that focus on changing maladaptive patterns of thinking and behaving. The goal is to correct false beliefs and minimize compulsive behavior.
  • Medication – Certain antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and particular antipsychotic drugs have shown promise in treating BDD. No approved drug is specific to treating only BDD.
  • Group and family therapy – Family support and education about BDD are critical to successful treatment. Group therapy provides essential peer support.

BDD does not typically get better on its own. BDD can have significant consequences if left untreated, including anxiety, unnecessary medical bills, depression, substance use disorder, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Discover BDD Treatment at Atlanta Center for Mental Health

There is no way to prevent body dysmorphic disorder. However, the outlook is good for those who seek and follow treatment. BDD typically begins in the teenage years. Learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of BDD is essential to identifying the disorder early and starting treatment as soon as possible.

Residential mental health treatment for BDD at the Atlanta Center for Mental Health provides effective holistic and evidence-based therapies in a safe and supportive environment without the distractions of daily life. Contact us at 833.625.0458 today to learn more about treating BDD.