Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD is a disorder that involves patient’s distorted perception of his or her appearance. Patients suffering from this disorder tend to see a certain aspect of their appearance as a strong imperfection and it makes their life unbearable. They believe that it is impossible to live a happy life having such a body; trying to solve the problem, they find many ways to hide the invented defect. These ways range from wearing specific clothes to having a surgical intervention (Sue et al., 2013, p. 147).
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People who suffer from this mental condition tend to experience various negative feelings every time they see their defect in the mirror or compare themselves to other people who they suppose to be beautiful. They often demonstrate avoidance behavior as it becomes extremely hard for them to communicate to other people; it happens because their problem becomes the only thing they can discuss. It is common for such people to prefer isolation, as they do not want anybody to have a look at their bodies. Trying to estrange the problem, they may start wearing only those clothes that cover the part of their body they find to be disgusting. What is more, they are not frightened of having a series of plastic surgeries because eliminating the defect becomes their ultimate goal.
Celebrities live under a pressure of severe beauty standards and this is why a plenty of them are likely to have this problem. I consider Michael Jackson to be one of the brightest examples of famous people with BDD. He had a lot of plastic surgeries throughout his life; what is more, the focus of his attention was constantly shifting as he hated his natural skin color, nose and chin shape, and many other body parts (Hoffman, 2012).
Both Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Body Dysmorphic Disorder involve a presence of certain fixed ideas that are gaining more and more attention of the patient. The nature of the ideas is quite different and patients with BDD do not use senseless rituals to calm down.
Hypochondriasis is a disorder that entails having a strong fear of being seriously ill. Patients with hypochondriasis tend to review the data on deadly diseases and its symptoms, and their fear makes them believe that they suffer from one of them. If I had to develop a differential diagnosis for the patient with intense worries, I would make sure if patient tends to think that he knows more than the doctor about his condition. If his claims on his disease are inconsistent with the real condition and he exaggerates the things unintentionally, he is likely to have hypochondriasis (Hypochondriasis health byte, 2009). There are some ways to help a person suffering from health anxiety.
Teaching patient to breathe regularly when he is feeling anxious may be a useful practice as deep and smooth breathing is beneficial to patient’s mental and physical condition. It is very important for psychologist to find the right cause of the intense worries as it is often connected to events of the past. What is more, exposure therapy can be successfully applied to such a patient; it involves exposing the person to the things and situations that are the reason of the fear. Thus, patient gets accustomed to that and the fear is likely to subside. The acceptance and commitment therapy also remains very useful for patients with increased anxiety; its goal is to make patient accept his condition as it is. During the sessions, psychologist explains to patients how to stay calm when anxiety is increasing. The combination of various methods is likely to be even more effective in treatment of anxiety disorders.
Hoffman, A. (2012). Michael Jackson and Body Dysmorphic Disorder [PowerPoint slides]. Web.
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Livesstrong.com. (2009). Hypochondriasis health byte. Web.
Sue, D., Sue, D.W., Sue, D., & Sue, S. (2013). Understanding abnormal behavior (10th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.