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when insecurities become a bigger problem

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By Mariana Sanches

08.05.21

Feeling uncomfortable with the body to the point of not supporting small “defects” in itself, avoiding social interactions and becoming obsessed with details of the image itself can alert to a much bigger problem: bodily dysmorphia. Do you want to know more about the subject? So, check out all the professional explanations below:

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What is bodily dysmorphia?

Also known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), body dysmorphia is a disorder that can cause several problems in the lives of those who live and need to deal with it. According to the psychologist Lilian Vasconcelos Félix (CRP 04/32367), TDC “is characterized by a distorted perception in relation to the body image and a concern with an imaginary defect in appearance or even, an exaggerated restlessness in relation to identified body imperfections , which manifests itself with repetitive, obsessive or avoidant behaviors ”.

In this disorder, the person does not recognize his defect as minimal or nonexistent, leading him to behaviors such as social isolation (he avoids events or situations where he considers that he would be exposed) and attempts to camouflage (with makeup, clothes, gestures, etc.). Other very characteristic behaviors of TDC are: comparing oneself with other people, constantly examining the “defect” in the mirror or avoiding it, performing plastic surgeries and aesthetic treatments, among others.

Currently, this disorder is classified as manifestation of the so-called spectrum of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), due to the presence of compulsive thoughts and behaviors. “When a person becomes very uncomfortable, anguished, worried and starts to suffer losses due to their imaginary defects or due to a small physical anomaly, a diagnosis of BDD can be considered”, says the psychologist.

Causes of bodily dysmorphia

When associated with OCD, body dysmorphia may be related to anxious and depressive conditions, thus, it can be a comorbidity of a mood disorder. “That is why a well-conducted investigation is necessary, by a competent professional who can guide the best behaviors, as well as making a differential diagnosis for other disorders such as, for example, Bulimia and Anorexia nervosa”, emphasizes Lilian.

Also according to the professional, “studies and clinical practice also suggest the need to investigate the history of development and appearance of symptoms in order to understand the influence of previous learning and experiences that reinforced this pattern of behavior making them repetitive ”.

In other words: learning throughout development, beliefs we form, social demands, among others, influence the development of the disorder, in addition to the predisposition and susceptibility of each individual, considering genetic factors for the development of mental disorders.

Symptoms of body dysmorphia

In order to make the diagnosis of BDD, according to the psychologist Lilian, four criteria must necessarily be present:

  • Excessive concern about a “defect” in the body: The individual is concerned about a defect in physical appearance (which are not observable or appear to be minimal to others) and, if a minimal anomaly is present, he is overly concerned with it.
  • Repetitive behaviors: During the course of the disease, the individual performs repetitive behaviors (for example, mirror checks, neurotic excoriation and asking friends and family for opinions about the defect) or mental acts (for example, comparing their appearance with that of others) in response for appearance problems.
  • Stress and / or impairment in social life: Excessive worry leads to significant stress or impairment in a person’s social, occupational or other areas of life.
  • There are complaints characterized as other disorders: These complaints cannot be characterized as another mental disorder, such as anorexia nervosa.

In a simpler way, we can highlight: low self-esteem, excessive concern with certain parts of the body, always looking in the mirror to check the appearance or avoiding the mirror completely. The disorder is more common in young women, but it can also affect men! So stay tuned: if you notice these symptoms together, seek help from a professional. He’s the best person to guide you!

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How to treat body dysmorphia

Okay, but how does the treatment for body dysmorphia work? Is there treatment? The answer is yes! It can help – and a lot – in your quality of life. According to the psychologist “the most suitable approach for this disorder is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with RPE techniques and, in some cases, a drug combination for a better result”.

“About having a cure, in relation to BDD is the same as what we say to our OCD patients: it depends! It depends on what you understand as a cure. If being cured for you means living free from obsessions, regaining control of your life, with the symptoms stabilized and no longer impeding your global functioning, we say yes, there is a cure. But if you expect never to have symptoms again, the answer is no. People with BDD should always maintain their care and put into practice everything they have learned in therapy, preventing symptoms from recurring in times of greater anxiety, stress or important changes in their lives. ”, Emphasizes Lilian.

Taking care of yourself is the greatest act of love that a woman can exercise! There is – and do not be ashamed – to seek help from a professional. Continue to learn more about another disorder that, when not accompanied and treated, can cause several problems in your life, OCD.


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