Body dysmorphic disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a body image disorder in which individuals are preoccupied with a perceived flaw in physical appearance, which can result in severe functional impairment and suffering. Individuals with BDD usually focus on one or more aspects of their appearance, such as skin, nose, hair, eyes (or any other part of their appearance), which they believe to be defective or ugly. Individuals with BDD often feel depressed, anxious and ashamed. Their degree of anguish and distress is such that it interferes with their day-to-day activities such as work, school, or social situations. BDD is believed to affect 1-2% of the general population. It also affects as many as 6-14% of those in mental health settings presenting with an anxiety or depressive disorder, 10-15% of those in dermatology settings, and 6-15% in cosmetic surgery settings. People with BDD frequently compare their appearance to others and check their appearance in mirrors or other reflective surfaces. They often camouflage their perceived flaw with make-up, hair, or clothing. They may change their body position to only allow people to see them from certain angles or in certain lighting conditions. Other behaviors include mirror avoidance, skin picking and seeking out dermatologists or plastic surgeons with the hope they can overcome the distress by changing the perceived defect.

How Brain Sees the 'Big Picture' May Affect Self-Image

Research by Dr. Jamie Feusner, professor of psychiatry and director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Intensive Treatment Program at the Semel Institute, was featured in a June 1 HealthDay News story.  He found that people who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder process visual information abnormally, even when looking at inanimate objects.


People with body-image disorders process 'big picture' visual information abnormally

People suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD — a severe mental illness characterized by debilitating misperceptions that one appears disfigured and ugly — process visual information abnormally, even when looking at inanimate objects, according to a new UCLA study. First author Dr. Jamie Feusner, a UCLA assistant professor of psychiatry, and colleagues found that patients with the disorder have less brain activity when processing holistic visual elements that provide the "big picture," regardless of whether that picture is a face or an object. The research appears in the current online edition of the journal Psychological Medicine.