Dysmorphophobia

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We may carry a mirror in our bags, and during a long day, we may use it or not pay any attention to it; yet, for some people, mirrors are a matter of life and death. The obsession with looking at a mirror is not only a passing thought, especially for those having negative thoughts about their body image; this is known as Dysmorphophobia, or Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

BDD is a hidden mental disorder that causes frustration and anxiety; it is often accompanied by depression and social phobia, and sometimes suicide attempts. Scientific studies have shown that the disease symptoms could appear from the age of five to eighty, and that the disease affects both males and females. People with BDD usually develop some compulsive habits, such as checking their appearance continuously using mirrors and reflective surfaces, or avoiding to look at it at all.

BDD appears in several forms, such as applying cosmetics frequently, changing sitting position constantly, or wearing heavy or loose clothing to hide perceived body defects. Other symptoms include persistent questions on form and appearance, comparing their appearance and shape to others, aggressiveness, excessive exercise, using sun-tanning or skin lightening products frequently, and frequent exposure to medical procedures and cosmetic procedures without having adequate satisfaction.

As a type of mental disorder, BDD requires a psychiatrist, who is experienced in dealing with this disease or in treating similar disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, etc. For treatment, doctors prescribe certain drugs from Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which are used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and compulsive disorders.

Doctors could also resort to behavioral and cognitive therapy by changing the way of thinking and performance, or usually employing an Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) method. The patient is exposed gradually to situations that intrigue compulsive thoughts and a sense of tension towards appearance, in addition to knowing the things that motivate the appearance of these symptoms, and learning new methods of thinking and dealing with compulsive habits. The doctor may also conduct group discussions with people who have experienced similar problems; possibly in the presence of family members. This approach is applicable to those having mild or moderate symptoms.

Recently, scientists have warned against the excessive use of technology and some mobile applications. They contribute significantly to resorting to cosmetic surgeries, as per the health.com website; applying face filters could make some people feel that their faces are distorted without them. According to the JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery medical journal, surgeons realized that 55% of patients undergo cosmetic surgeries to improve their appearance in selfies, which increased from 42% in 2015.

The Daily Mail unveiled an electronic device entitled HiMirror, which has an in-built camera and analyzes the condition of the skin on a scale of 1–100%. The device proposes a skincare routine that will address your specific needs and provides aesthetic tips; this makes doctors consider such modern innovations as reasons for BDD, leading to psychological problems. Statistics in Britain also indicate that one in fifty people suffers this disorder.

Eventually, recent studies have proposed some techniques to improve your relationship with yourself, while coping with the disorder, such as self-care, eating nutritious foods, and carrying out exercises such as running and yoga. Writing diaries to express fear, anger, etc., is also useful, because when you follow your emotions and mood swings, you will know the modalities you wish to overcome. Last but not least, doing voluntary work brings out the patient's positive qualities, and helps in accepting oneself.

References
altibbi.com
skynewsarabia.com
wikihow.com

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