Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) can be described as the preoccupation of a perceived flaw and/or imagined defect. One or more preoccupations can often consume many hours of the individual’s day. BDD sufferers may think that people are noticing and talking about their perceived flaws. These individuals may begin to camouflage their perceived flaws with make-up, clothing, body positioning, etc. They may seek out plastic surgery and dermatologic procedures repeatedly to rid themselves of their imagined defects. They also may spend much time looking in the mirror or other reflective surfaces to examine their flaws, while others will avoid them. Those experiencing BDD may also ask other’s for reassurance regarding their imagined defects. Many of these symptoms can impact individuals socially, occupationally, and interpersonally.
BDD does possess some similarities to OCD that makes the preferred treatment for BDD, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), including Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), and Cognitive Restructuring. With ERP, people with BDD expose themselves to the things, places, or people that make them the most anxious about their appearance, while learning to refrain from past behaviors that may have relieved their anxiety. These behaviors may have been avoidance, camouflage, and reassurance seeking. Cognitive Restructuring helps individuals with BDD to challenge their automatic negative thoughts about themselves, by learning to replace them with more objective thoughts.