Teen Body Dysmorphic Disorder Treatment and Difference Between Boys and Girls

Posted on 21. Jan, 2014 by in Disorders

Teen Body Dysmorphic Disorder Treatment is dependent upon understanding three basic aspects of the disorder: obsession, compulsion, and avoidance. The presence of all three aspects differentiates this disease from what might, dismissively, be considered a “natural” focus upon one’s looks during the teenage years. Once a teenager is spending more than an hour per day actively worrying about their appearance, they are at risk for BDD; if they are spending three or more hours per day worrying about their appearance, they are at high risk for this condition.

This “obsessive” aspect is accompanied by “compulsive” behaviors which the teen performs in order to relief themselves of the stress associated with this obsessive worry. Since these compulsive behaviors only provide temporary relief, they must be performed more and more often, and in greater extreme, in order to continue providing the relief which the teen seeks.  Eventually, teens will begin to avoid social situations and public encounters because of their discomfort and shame. Teens often begin feigning other illnesses in order to justify missing excessive amounts of school. When a teen is compulsive of their looks, often teen eating disorders may develop as well.

BDD treatment is also dependent upon recognizing that this condition is more productively managed when it is understood as a neurological disorder rather than a psychological disorder.  This condition often manifests at the onset of puberty when hormonal changes disrupt the uptake of Serotonin in the brain. Teens’ ability to view themselves accurately becomes neurologically impaired. Consequently, teens begin obsessing about a perceived “flaw” in their appearance. Persons suffering from BDD often obsess, primarily, about their face and/or head. They may fixate on the quality of their skin, a mark or scar on their face, the shape of their head, the shape of their body, their hair, etc. This “flaw” may be real or imagined but what defines BDD is the inordinate value that the teen places upon the chosen issue as well as the frustrating discrepancy between the Teen’s perception of the problem’s excessive severity and other people’s view of the problem as minimal or non-existent.

BDD is a particularly difficult disease to detect because it often disguises itself as behaviors that are perceived as “harmless” such as excessive vanity or because it is confused with eating disorders. When attempting to diagnose, it is important to note that BDD is not gender specific but rather affects teenage males and females equally. Because teens often “self medicate” by abusing alcohol and drugs, it is usually those more easily identifiable problems that cause parents to seek treatment for their teens. Parental support is as important as any treatment during a child’s BDD. However, when BDD is the underlying cause of this substance abuse, it is imperative to identify BDD in order to effectively and thoroughly provide the essential treatment.

About the author – Robert Hunt is a recovering addict of 20 years.  He has devoted his life to helping others suffering from chemical addictions as well as mental health challenges.  Robert maintains many blogs on drug addiction, eating disorders and depression.  He is a sober coach and wellness advocate and a prominent figure in the recovery community.
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