People with body dysmorphic disorder 'feel ugly'

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Washington, Feb 2 (ANI): People who check themselves in the mirror every now and then and are obsessed over even tiny flaws on their face or body might be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder.

For them looking into the mirror can be a horrifying experience as the psychiatric condition causes them to believe, wrongly, that they appear disfigured and ugly.

During the study, researchers at University of California Los Angeles have determined that the brains of people with BDD have abnormalities in processing visual input, particularly when examining their own face.

They also found that the same systems of the brain are overactive in both BDD and obsessive-compulsive disorder, suggesting a link between the two.

"People with BDD are ashamed, anxious and depressed," said Dr. Jamie Feusner, an assistant professor of psychiatry and lead author of the study.

"They obsess over tiny flaws on their face or body that other people would never even notice. Some refuse to leave the house, others feel the need to cover parts of their face or body, and some undergo multiple plastic surgeries. About half are hospitalized at some point in their lifetimes, and about one-fourth attempt suicide," Feusner added.

Feusner and colleagues examined 17 patients with BDD and matched them by sex, age and education level with 16 healthy people.

The participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while viewing photographs of two faces - their own and that of a familiar actor - first unaltered, and then altered in two ways to parse out different elements of visual processing.

One altered version included only high-spatial frequency information, which would allow detailed analysis of facial traits, including blemishes and hairs.

The other showed only low-spatial frequency information, conveying the general shape of the face and the relationship between facial features.

The study showed that individuals with BDD demonstrated abnormal brain activity in visual processing systems when viewing the unaltered and low-spatial frequency versions of their own faces.

They also had unusual activation patterns in their frontostriatal systems, which help control and guide behaviour and maintain emotional flexibility in responding to situations.

The abnormal activation patterns, especially in response to low-frequency images, suggest that individuals with body dysmorphic disorder have difficulties perceiving or processing general information about faces.

"This may account for their inability to see the big picture - their face as a whole," Feusner said.

"They become obsessed with detail and think everybody will notice any slight imperfection on their face. They just don't see their face holistically," Feusner added.(ANI)

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