Obsessions—do you have any physical fixations that you are zealous about or dissatisfied with?
Although some of us feel displeased with certain aspects of our appearance, these trepidations typically don't weigh on our mind to the point we feel tormented.
According to a new UCLA scientific study, individuals suffering from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) process visual information abnormally.
BDD is an obsessive fixation with an apparent defect to one's physical appearance. BDD obsessions are habitually absorbed on the head and face, but may involve any body part.
This mental health disorder can expressively damage educational and professional functioning, as well as social relationships.
In the Journal of Psychological Medicine, Dr. Jamie Feusner, a UCLA assistant professor of psychiatry, and head author found that patients with the disorder have less brain activity when processing complete graphical elements that provide the "bigger picture," regardless of whether that picture is a face or an object.
BDD has obsessive-compulsive features that are comparable to those of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Just as individuals with anorexia nervosa (eating disorder) obsess about their weight, those with BDD obsess over a specific aspect of their appearance.
"No study until this one has investigated the brain's activity for visually processing objects in people with BDD," said Feusner, director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Intensive Treatment Program at UCLA. "This is an important step to figuring out what's going wrong in the brains of people with BDD so we can develop treatments to change their perceptions of themselves."
Sufferers of BDD find themselves fixating on small details, such as a single blemish or wrinkle, rather than viewing their face as a whole. Many BDD sufferers are too self-conscious to be seen in public, while others take drastic measures to have recurrent and redundant plastic surgeries. BDD sufferers also encounter anxiety disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts.
UCLA Research and BDD
The study zoomed in on 14 BDD patients, both men and women. An MRI was implicated to scan patients while they viewed digital photographs of homes, some of which were altered in ways to construe different fundamentals of visual processing.
The images were broken down into a set of extreme alterations, such as the shingles on the roof. Other images consisted of minute changes, such as the shape of the house, doors and windows.
The results concluded that BDD patients had irregular brain triggering when viewing pictures of the less-detailed houses. Patients with more severe BDD symptoms indicated the lower the brain activity in the areas accountable for viewing the image holistically.
"The study suggests that BDD patients have general abnormalities in visual processing," Feusner said. "But we haven't yet determined whether abnormal visual processing contributes as a cause to developing BDD or is the effect of having BDD. This study, along with our previous ones, shows that people with BDD have imbalances in the way they see details versus the big picture when viewing themselves, others and even inanimate objects."
BDD can be treated by an experienced mental health professional. Treatment for BDD takes time, inflexible work ethic, and extreme patience.
To learn more about BDD, find a mental health doctor in your area.Sources
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.