Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

This is an obsession with a perceived defect in the sufferer's body or appearance. The most common manifestation of this is muscle dysmorphia (or bigorexia), where the person believes that they are underweight and puny when the opposite is true. Other common areas of dissatisfaction are facial features.

Muscle dysmorphia tends to affect bodybuilders and avid gym-goers, and more males than females since men are under more pressure to be toned and muscular. It isn't in itself life-threatening, but sufferers are at risk if they take muscle-increasing drugs such as steroids.

Symptoms:

  • Preoccupation with an imagined defect in appearance. If a slight physical anomaly is present, the person's concern is markedly excessive.
  • The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • The preoccupation is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g. dissatisfaction with body shape and size in anorexia nervosa).
  • The sufferer may become more and more withdrawn socially, often avoiding contact with other people for fear of them noticing their 'defect'. There is also the possiblitity that the sufferer will make comparisons between themselves and their acquaintances.

    In many cases, counselling can help individuals understand the causes and break the cycle.


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