You can fully recover from Body Dysmorphic Disorder but it takes time

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a severe mental illness whereby a person is overly concerned with how they look and what they perceive to be defects in their appearance. The focus can be on any part of the body and commonly involves the skin, hair, weight and the nose.

Usually the perceived defect or defects are non existent or are not even noticeable to others but to the sufferer there is a major problem that is wrecking their lives.

They will often seek cosmetic surgery to correct what they see as their imperfections but invariably won’t be happy with the results. Sometimes they become so distraught they may even contemplate suicide.

No one knows what causes BDD but what is known is that it is very real and can be severe enough to result in hospitalisation in some cases. Many people with BDD suffer from other mental health conditions as well including depression, anxiety, panic attacks and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Now, recent research from Brown University and Rhode Island hospital, has found that people can completely recover from Body Dysmorphic Disorder but it can take as much as five years or more.

Andri Bjornsson from Brown University who was also lead author of the study said there was a surprisingly high recovery rate and low recurrence rate in the present study.

The researchers followed 15 people suffering with body Dysmorphic disorder for a period of 8 years. All the participants were part of the Harvard/Brown Anxiety Research Project (HARP).

They found that over the 8 year period 76 percent of sufferers recovered and the relapse rate was only 14 percent. Only a few recovered within a couple of years and only half had recovered within 5 years.

The study is possibly the longest running study ever conducted which looked specifically at people with BDD and the news that recovery is possible, albeit over a period of time, will offer welcome hope to the many that are living miserably as a result of the condition.

Treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder usually involves a combination of therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy as well as anti-depressant medication.

The results of the latest study have been published in the current issue of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.

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  1. hollie pilet
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    I am a 28 year old female with bdd….i obbsesse about the way i look and have been on drugs for the past 5 years just to feel comfortable in my own skin. Ive been severely depressed and have chronic anxiety. I have been clean now for 2 weeks and i am trying to address this issue. I dont like the side of my face. I feel like i look like a boy from the side and do not leave the house without makeup. I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin i feel like i want to jump out.Im praying with the right medication and therepy i can get over this.

  2. paul murphy
    Posted September 18, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    15 subjects really doesnt say anything about the prognosis for BDD.I mean we dont know anything about the severity of those subjects or how they were selected or how recovery was measured.Youd need a multi centere study with 100s or thousands of severe patients undergoing the same treatment to yield meaningful results

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