Body Dysmorphic Disorder

By Gabriella Phillip

Body Dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a psychiatric disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined or minor physical defect that other people usually don’t notice. BDD has various features that are similar to that of obsessive-compulsive disorders and eating disorders. Patients diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, have distressing thoughts and images that they aren’t able to control. Emotional distress that can result from this can cause a person to perform particular rituals or compulsions. Regarding BDD, the person’s persistent preoccupation with his/her perceived physical defect can lead to ritualistic behaviors including constantly looking in the mirror or skin picking. Similarly to eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, Body Dysmorphic Disorder involves a concern with body image. However, while eating disorder patients are concerned with body weight, those diagnosed with BDD are worried about a specific area or part of the body.

Body Dysmorphia affects approximately 2% of the general population; however, BDD usually goes undiagnosed so the number of people who actually have the disorder could potentially be much greater. Those with body dysmorphia oftentimes feel a significant amount of shame regarding their perceived flaws which may hinder them from seeking treatment. BDD prevalence differs by gender, as women are reported to have higher rates of this disorder than men. Factors such as living with a pre-existing mental condition like depression or anxiety or experiencing bullying or abuse during childhood or adolescence can increase the risk of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. The typical onset for BDD is between the ages twelve and seventeen, around the time when adolescents go through puberty and certain bodily changes.

Social media platforms like Instagram oftentimes feed us an interminable supply of filtered and unrealistic depictions of different people and their lives. It’s easy to compare yourself to well edited pictures of models, celebrities, and even friends online, making you feel as though you don’t measure up as you are. Also, various forms of bullying like body shaming or slut shaming can occur online and can easily result in distorted body image and low self-esteem. Those with BDD sometimes choose to socially isolate themselves due to high level of shame related to their bodily appearance. While social media doesn’t necessarily cause body dysmorphia, it can serve as a trigger for those already predisposed to the disorder, or could possibly worsen existing symptoms. The main treatments used for BDD are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medication, specifically serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Many patients use therapy and medication simultaneously. These treatments are meant to help reduce obsessive compulsive behaviors, improve stress level management involved in these behaviors, and aid patients in viewing themselves in a more loving and less judgmental light.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

 

Health and Weight

By Zuzanna Myszko

“Healthism” is a new term that has been coined because of the social link that has been created between morality and health. Because health is seen to be heavily related to weight, people who are overweight are often seen as “lazy” and “over-indulgent,” which are extremely harmful generalizations that make overweight people seem immoral.

Research has shown that the connection between health and weight is not as clear as we once thought. One may participate in health-promoting activities and still be overweight because of metabolic rate, genetics, biological influence, and environmental factors. Therefore, healthism stigmatizes the overweight individual and affects his or her self-image in all aspects of life.

Some specific factors that may be promoting weight gain include:

  • Increased accessibility to high-calorie foods and drinks.
  • Lower prices of high-calorie foods and drinks.
  • Increased prices of fruits and vegetables.
  • Living in food deserts, which are areas where affordable and nutritious food are hard to obtain.
  • Lack of public transport to get to grocery stores.
  • Low safety in some areas.
  • Environmental toxins.

Also, dieting, usually touted as the solution to obesity, has shown to be ineffective. People usually bounce back to the weight they were before beginning the diet. More importantly, dieters do not usually experience an increase in well-being and health outcomes.

Additionally, the judgment of others based on their weight implies that they should not be allowed to be responsible for their own bodies, which is an absurd assumption. All people have the right to autonomy when it comes to their bodies.

In the end, healthism has an excessively negative effect on the mental health of those impacted starting at a very young age. Many experience eating disorders as a result. Therefore, people who are generally termed “overweight” must focus on the facts and create a positive relationship with their body.

 

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from issues related to weight or eating disorders, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Image: https://playzoa.com/book-of-womens-exercise-pants-petite-in-spain.html

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/real-healing/201901/health-and-weight

Body Image: Body Dysmorphic Disorder Treatment

By Samantha Glosser

Body dysmorphic disorder, sometimes referred to as body dysmorphia or BDD, is a mental disorder characterized by preoccupation with imagined or markedly exaggerated imperfections or defects in one’s physical appearance. Those suffering from body dysmorphic disorder spend a significant amount of time every day obsessing over their appearance and engaging in repetitive compulsive behaviors in an attempt to avoid anxiety, distress, and hide their imperfections. Signs and symptoms include constantly checking one’s appearance, excessive grooming, over-exercising, picking skin, pulling hair, using makeup or clothing to camouflage one’s appearance, or even getting plastic surgery. Body dysmorphic disorder leads to significant impairment in daily functioning and quality of life. However, there are treatment options available.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is short-term, goal-oriented therapy. In body dysmorphic disorder, CBT is used to decrease compulsive behaviors and the negative thoughts about one’s appearance. This is achieved through techniques such as cognitive restructuring and mind reading. Cognitive restructuring teaches the patient to challenge irrational thoughts about their bodies and replace them with more realistic and adaptive thoughts. In addition to their own negative thoughts, individuals diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder also believe others hold the same negative thoughts about them. Mind reading allows patients to understand that other people do not share these thoughts about them and provides realistic alternatives. For example, that person staring at them at the mall was probably admiring their outfit. Another frequently used technique is exposure therapy. This requires patients to create a hierarchy of anxiety-provoking situations which they are then exposed to in order to overcome anxiety and distress.

Psychiatric medications. Research has also shown that antidepressant medications are an effective treatment for body dysmorphic disorder, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s). SSRI’s that are commonly used for the treatment of body dysmorphic disorder include Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, among others. SSRI’s help to reduce obsessional thinking, compulsive behaviors, and depression, a common comorbid disorder among individuals diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, or other problems associated with negative body image, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

 

Source: Tartakovsky, M. (2016, July 17). Demystifying treatment for body dysmorphic disorder. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/demystifying-treatment-for-body-dysmorphic-disorder/

Restrictive Eating Disorder: Orthorexia

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

“Sugar-free,” “low-calorie,” “antioxidant-rich,” “organic.” These are all words we are surrounded by in a world where healthy eating is so greatly stressed and strived for. We are educated from an early age about how it is important to choose healthier options in order to maintain our wellbeing and avoid illnesses. Healthy eating seems to be failproof – nothing could possibly go wrong with wanting to make healthy food choices, right?

Wrong. While healthy eating is extremely beneficial in reasonable amounts, it can take an unhealthy turn when the desire to eat clean becomes obsessive. This condition is defined as orthorexia, an obsession with eating healthy foods and eliminating those which do not fall under this category. Although not formally diagnosed, this illness can truly affect one’s wellbeing. People with orthorexia completely ban foods that they do not think are healthy, and often restrict calories as well, thus destroying their relationships with food.

There are many symptoms of orthorexia to note. Individuals with this disorder excessively look at nutritional facts and caloric information. They are continually concerned about health information and ingredients, and cut out foods that do not qualify as healthy (such as sugars, carbs, and fats). Orthorexia can cause individuals to spend lots of time thinking about the foods they need to consume, and makes them uncomfortable if they are only surrounded by “unhealthy” food choices. Orthorexia is often comorbid with obsessive compulsive disorder. As a result of orthorexia, individuals deprive themselves of key nutrients and essential calories for proper functioning. They and can develop issues such as decreased blood pressure, blood sugar fluctuations, digestive issues, impaired brain functioning and concentration, sleeping difficulties, hair loss, loss of menstrual cycle, and muscle cramping.

Although healthy eating can be advantageous, it must be encouraged in a realistic and reasonable way. People should be informed that having a well-balanced diet is important, and involves eating foods such as carbs, sugars, and fats which may be believed to be “unhealthy”. Overall physical health can be maintained even if eating those “junky” meals every now and then and not obsessively restricting one’s diets. By promoting this, we can also certify that we encourage both good physical AND mental health.

If you or someone you know is suffering from orthorexia and/or other eating issues, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.