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What Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder; How Is It Caused?

body dysmorphic disorder weight

There are certainly times in every individual’s life where they aren’t wild or crazy about what they see in the mirror.

Everybody has bad hair days, aren’t happy about packing on a couple of extra pounds, or feel like the results they’re getting from working out just aren’t coming as quick as they expected.

Unfortunately, upwards of 2.4% of the population in America is unhappy with what they see in the mirror every single day – and many of them are living with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).                                                                                                                          

Classified as a legitimate medical health condition by the World Health Organization and recognized by modern medicine and psychiatry as a major problem these days, Body Dysmorphic Disorder weight issues cannot only wreak havoc on your self-esteem and your mental health but can devastate your physical health and wellness as well.

It’s important to understand as much of this mental disorder as possible to help yourself or any of your loved ones that may be combating and confronting BDD on a daily basis.

It isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t fun to go through life with a distorted image of yourself but the good news is that it can be conquered with therapy, focus and dedication.

What is Body Dysmorphia?

Modern medicine characterizes BDD as obsessive and circular thinking that revolves around a singular flaw, specific part of your body or your face, or issues with your weight that become exaggerated over time.

BDD anxiety

These issues are hardly observable to outsiders but are almost painfully clear and always ever present to those that are living with BDD anxiety. Symptoms of this condition can include, but are not limited to:

  • Constantly looking in the mirror to analyze the perceived flaws
  • Taking drastic steps to manage, mitigate, or hide the perceived flaws
  • Social isolation in an effort to avoid others becoming aware of the flaw
  • Major behavioral changes (particularly when it comes to diet and exercise) to eliminate the flaw
  • Plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery solutions to transform perceived appearance issues

… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Even worse news regarding this disorder is that it can specifically target any perceived flaw, a body part, or body type imaginable.

Some people will have Body Dysmorphic Disorder that revolves around bowls and freckles, acne scars, facial, head, or body hair, their weight or their height, muscular size or lack thereof, and even things that come down to the shape or symmetry of their facial features or other body parts.

What Causes Eating Disorders

A lot of Body Dysmorphic Disorder weight issues can be traced back to underlying conditions that are closely intertwined with eating disorders.

Medical experts believe that this condition (as well as eating disorders) are likely caused by a unique and personal cocktail of neurological issues, biological issues, genetic factors, as well as environmental issues and behavioral habits that can be picked up at a very young age.

Researchers have conclusively shown that the odds of being diagnosed with this disorder skyrocket if you have a close biological relative that also exhibits signs and symptoms of this disorder.

Intense negative experiences as a child (especially bullying) can trigger BDD that becomes progressively worse with age, and certain personality traits (like low self-esteem) can contribute to this condition and eating disorders as well.

Individuals that suffer from psychological and neurological conditions that include anxiety and depression are more likely to have to contend with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Cognitive Behavioral Treatment

It is very challenging to “tinker” your way to fixing the underlying issues causing BDD in the first place, but researchers have found that Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management Techniques and more traditional CBT solutions are quite effective at eliminating much of this problem.

cognitive behavioural stress management techniques

A clear and accurate diagnosis is necessary to move forward with CBT protocols, however, which can make things a bit challenging since those living with this condition routinely hide their compulsions and their obsessions from others.

On top of that, this disorder in particular is commonly misdiagnosed even by experienced medical professionals.

With proper diagnosis, however, a commonplace treatment plan for BDD and other eating disorders caused by stress and anxiety involves a combination of CBT, psychotherapy, and (some cases) prescription medications.

Time and time again CBT has been found to be one of the most effective solutions for treating this condition, though antidepressant medications have also been shown to provide real relief as well.

CBT has a lot fewer side effects associated with it compared to antidepressant medications, however. It may be worth trying CBT before you go down the prescription medication route.

How to Eat Intuitively and Mindfully in Recovery

It used to be a common refrain during the recovery phase of combating something like BDD that you wouldn’t be able to eat intuitively while you were in recovery.

Today we know that isn’t the case.

With intuitive and mindful eating you are able to help rebuild and restore your body, your health, and your well-being even when you are recovering from something as devastating as BDD.

The secret here is to be very conscious in the early stages of your recovery phase. You want to relearn the value of eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full, the intuitive sensations that have been suppressed because of this mental condition.

With a more mindful approach to intuitive eating the you’re able to sort of “reboot” your body and your brain and the connection between hunger, feelings of satiation, and learning how and when to eat and when to stop.

It sounds a little contrary that the fastest road to intuitive eating during recovery from something as serious as BDD would be to carefully and mindfully plan your meals out ahead of time (at least initially). But this is one of the most proven ways to learn how to eat intuitively after an eating disorder has been conquered.