The devastating effects of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

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When you hear the term Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) do your know what this is referring to? BDD is a disabling preoccupation with perceived defects or flaws in appearance. BDD is not restricted to either sex as both men and women can suffer with this anxiety disorder totally related to body image.

Sufferers become excessively self-conscious and have the tendency to check their appearance over and over again. They may try to camouflage or alter the defects that they see. Onlookers are frequently perplexed as they can see nothing out of the ordinary but to the sufferer of BDD it causes distress and can interfere substantially with their ability to function in a social environment.

The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation confirm that there has been very little research on the treatment of BDD and are urgently looking for funding to enable further research for the treatment of BDD.

The NICE guidelines for the treatment of BDD confirm that there are two treatments that can help and these are cognitive behaviour therapy and serotonergic anti-depressant medication.

At present the NICE guidelines recommend:

  • CBT, which is specific for BDD, when the problem causes mild functional impairment.
  • A choice of either CBT or a SSRI medication when the problem causes moderate impairment.
  • A combination of CBT and SSRI medication when the problem causes severe impairment.

Because BDD can cause high levels of distress and can leave people feeling hopeless there is very sadly a high suicide rate. Surveys of people with BDD attending a specialist clinic show about 25% have attempted suicide in the past. Another survey suggests that about 0.3% of people with BDD commit suicide each year.

If you are suffering from or trying to help a friend or loved one who has BDD, you could make contact with a therapist who is accredited with the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies , there are also Clinical Psychologists and Counsellors who are competent and not accredited by the BABCP. A key issue to discuss is their training and experience in treating BDD and which treatment protocol they would follow.

The above information has been sourced from

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