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Body dysmorphic disorder in children and young people

11 February 2021
Volume 30 · Issue 3


The incidence of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) in young people is increasing. Causes of BDD are related to the prevalence of social media and adolescent development, especially the role that brain neuroplasticity has on influencing perception. There are long-term impacts of BDD, including depression and suicide. Prevention and promotion of positive body image are part of the nurse's role; treatment can prevent unnecessary aesthetic surgical interventions.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition, on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum (Schneider et al, 2017a). BDD is understood as an obsessive disorder associated with an intense preoccupation with perceived or imagined flaws in appearance (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Obsession with flaws in appearance causes compulsive checking of these flaws, which leads to functional impairment, increased desire to have cosmetic surgery and comorbidities such as depression (Krebs et al, 2017a). Several studies have suggested that more severe cases of BDD in adults are associated with abuse and trauma, bullying and negative social experiences during childhood (Webb et al, 2015; Krebs et al, 2017a). The symptoms of BDD, such as obsessive mirror checking, can lead to toxic stress and numerous studies have identified the negative psychological impacts of BDD in adolescence (Schneider et al, 2017b). Research also suggests that the earlier the age of onset, the higher the probability of negative developmental impact and comorbidities; including a higher likelihood of suicide (Bjornsson et al, 2013; Schneider et al, 2019). Throughout this article the period of development will be referred to as adolescence and the population will be referred to as young people/person.

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