What are the causes of BDD? It can be considered that societal pressure on the value of being beautiful in physical looks can play a part in the development of BDD.
What are the causes of BDD?
To find the cause of BDD it would probably be beneficial to look at the biopsychosocial model, as it seems that multiple factors play a part in the development of BDD. These appear to be a genetic predisposition, neurobiological factors such as malfunctioning serotonin, executive dysfunction, and visual processing abnormalities, psychological factors, developmental factors, and cultural and social factors.
It may be more common in people who were teased about their appearance, bullied, or experienced a traumatic event or emotional conflict such as abuse when they were children.
The disorder may also be more common in individuals with low self-esteem. It can also be considered that societal pressure on the value of being beautiful in physical looks can play a part in the development of BDD.
How can you treat BDD?
Treatment for BDD will often include psychotherapy in the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and in particular Exposure and Response Prevention (EX/RP) where the individual is exposed to their distressing fears regarding their appearance and asked to avoid the usual dysfunctional response. The psychotherapy is often done in conjunction to medication. The medication often prescribed for BDD is Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), an anti-depressant.
How can surgeons or aesthetics doctors handle a patient when they realise they suffer from BDD?
It is extremely difficult to give therapy to someone who does not want therapy and does not see the need for therapy. It may often be that a person suffering from BDD will not see the need for therapy and will believe their perceived physical defect can only be rectified through physical means or by covering it up in some manner.
The reason for this may be that most individuals with BDD have strong beliefs often bordering on delusions that they do have a physical defect, even when others point out to them that what they believe is a physical defect is a misplaced belief or in fact utterly exaggerated. Therefore if a surgeon suggests to this individual that they do not need cosmetic surgery for instance the individual may not believe them and at times can get quite angry with the surgeon. In this instance I would suggest that the surgeon rather decline doing the surgery as cosmetic surgery is a form of a compulsion/ritual in BDD and these compulsions/rituals can exacerbate the BDD.
It is also common for individuals with BDD to be unhappy with the surgery/procedure due to their false perception of that body part, and therefore have the tendency to put blame on the surgeon for doing a poor job. However, I would also recommend that the surgeon still suggest to a client they believe may be suffering from BDD to seek help from a trained mental health professional as many individuals suffering from BDD are reluctant to share their concerns with others and by offering them a way to get help and understand what they are experiencing may be the open door they need to get help for their condition.