Body Dysmorphic Disorder “BDD”

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Suicide, by Ryan Halvorson at IDEA Fitness Journal.

This article sparked my interest because I had not previously heard of the psychiatric disorder (“BDD”). Based on a study completed by the American Journal of Psychiatry (2006; 163, 1280–82), BDD ” . . . causes individuals to become obsessed with their appearance and to develop a distorted self-image.” While reading the article, I was wondering whether this definition could apply to most American women?

The study included a 2-4 year interview with individuals that were over 12 years of age, able to be interviewed in person, and did NOT have an organic mental disorder. There were 185 participants total. 52 percent of study participants were self-referred and 48 percent were referred by professionals. According to AJP’s study, BDD has “high rates of suicide ideation and attempts.” (2 participants died during the study; both were men.)

After reading the study, I questioned whether BDD is truly a mental health disorder or consequence of our society and media. Evidently, BDD can be caused by mental and physical abuse occurring either during adolescence or early adulthood. For some people, BDD lasted for 16 years. It was unclear whether thoughts of distorted body image disappeared or ideas of suicide and attempts went away.

Because I have a young daughter, this study hits home for me. For some reason, it was NOT surprising to learn the mean age of participants was 33 years. Out of 185 people involved in the study, 126 were women, 138 were unmarried, and 157 were white. By comparison, only 13 participants in the study were Hispanic. What does this say about the societies in which we live?

I’m also curious whether readers previously heard of BDD? Please share your thoughts. Thanks for reading.

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