Appearance Issues

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Adjustment to Visible Difference

Bulimia & Other Eating Disorders

 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a condition where a person may focus on an apparent physical defect that other people cannot see, or they may be overconcerned about a mild physical defect.  The thought of the defect is very distressing and the condition can have a great impact on day-to-day life and functioning.  People with Body Dysmorphic Disorder may avoid social situations, or even avoid going out of the home.  They may undergo repeated treatments, such as cosmetic surgery, to correct the imagined or trivial defect.  The usual treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder is either Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or an SSRI antidepressant medicine although a combination is most effective.  Sometimes people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder do not always accept that they have a psychological disorder but coming to understand their difficulties better can reduce their distress and improve their day-to-day lives.
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Adjustment to Visible Difference

All people look different but some people differ from the 'norm' more than others.  Society is increasingly preoccupied with appearance and therefore how one looks does matter. Differences in appearance can result from a wide variety of causes: some are from birth (eg cleft lip); some are due to disease (eg psoriasis); some are caused by injury (eg burns or amputations); or as the result of medical treatment (eg surgical scarring following cancer treatment).  Some are permanent while others might be temporary or can be surgically altered.  In some instances physical function might also be affected (for example, treatment for oral cancer affecting both appearance and speech and swallowing).  Having an appearance that is in any way different to 'the norm' can have a profound psychological impact for some individuals.  These can be grouped into the impact on emotions, such as anxiety and depression; detrimental effects on self-evaluation, such as reduced self-esteem and confidence; problem encounters with others including intrusive questioning and staring; and behaviours such as social avoidance.  Those who acquire a disfigurement, for example through injury, may be facing their reactions to the trauma or illness itself as well as the loss of their former appearance.  The therapeutic setting can be used to help with the emotional distress as well as through learning techniques and strategies to help manage the adjustment to their altered appearance.
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Bulimia and Other Eating Problems

Eating disorders are psychological problems which have a negative impact on both physical and mental health.  Extreme dieting, bingeing, purging, overexercising, poor body image and comfort eating are aspects of a complicated relationship with food and its control.  On the surface, eating disorders appear to be about food, or rather the misuse of food, but there are usually much more complex, emotional, and unresolved issues underneath.  Psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be used to explore these issues with food and help people learn to develop healthier eating habits.
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