Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), also known as dysmorphia, is a condition where people constantly feel as though they’re hideous or even deformed when they’re perfectly fine. They often feel depressed, anxious and exhausted. And it’s serious: with over 6.5 million people suffering from it in the US alone.
Here’s how you can deal with dysmorphia whether you’re suffering from it, or someone you care about is.
1) Recognise the signs and symptoms
It’s good to catch on to the warning signs and symptoms of BDD, which usually appear during the early teenage years. Some things to watch out for are repetitive behavioural patterns like negative thoughts on body or facial appearance. Ignored, these could soon develop into something more serious.
2) Be there
No matter what you tell someone who has BDD, it’s unlikely to change the way they feel about themselves, and you are not to blame. The best course of action when dealing with a loved one who suffers from BDD is helping them understand and clearly deﬁne their problems. Encouraging them to persist with their treatment and praising improvement, however small, are the next actions to take.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBD) is really useful for treating BDD as well as related conditions like depression and anxiety. A type of psychotherapy, a therapist works with patients to challenge negative thought patterns about themselves and the world. By first identifying harmful behaviours and where they come from, patients are then helped to replace these negative thought processes and actions with more positive ones.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) are considered the first-line medication treatment for BDD. These medications are antidepressants, but unlike non-SRI antidepressants they also help reduce obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Although effective, these are no instant cure; often taking a few weeks to kick in.
It’s possible to boost self-esteem with natural remedies like meditation. Relaxing the mind and body can help reduce stress and negative thoughts. Relieving the mind is a good practice to acquire a positive mindset, which is important to have when having BDD.
Dysmorphia is not something that will likely go away forever, but it can be manageable. Although some of the methods here can and have been used with success, it could be useful to combine several of them to ensure the best results. At the end of the day, with the right mentality and therapy, anyone with BDD can come to embrace their imperfections.