As you can imagine there are all sorts of addictions out there. Sure, there are the ones that can create great harm, like having a heroin, cocaine, or meth addiction. And then there are addictions to sugar, nicotine, or caffeine, which most people live with without much trouble. And there are yet other types of addictions that are a bit more rare, such as an addiction to shopping, tanning, and pulling hair. Perhaps an even rarer addiction is one to cosmetic surgery. This article will discuss this type of addiction and list the signs that might point to having it.
At the root of cosmetic surgery addiction is an illness known as body dsymorphic disorder, or BDD. This is an illness in which a person believes that a part of their body is “ugly” or unattractive. In fact, the illness comes with a great deal of anxiety. A person not only believes that they are unattractive in some way, but they tend to have an obsessive fear or terror that their body, or a part of it, is repulsive. This anxiety or fear is so great that they are willing to do what it takes to make changes to their body, such as with cosmetic surgery. BDD is sometimes called Dysmorphophobia. The word phobia at the end of this alternative name points to the severe amount of anxiety that exists. In fact, the anxiety or fear someone with BDD has can prevent them from going out in public, attending school, going to work, or engaging in any social activities.
BDD can ultimately cause a person to go under the knife again and again and again. Those with BDD tend to be dissatisfied with the results of their surgery. Instead, they continue to have an obsessive fear about the so-called physical defect they have. One study found that approximately one third of those who have cosmetic surgery on their nose struggle with BDD. In fact, if you see the following signs in someone or in yourself, either a cosmetic surgery addiction or body dsymorphic disorder may be present:
- spending hours per day attempting to hide their “defective” physical features
- spending significant amount of time applying makeup or finding just the right clothing
- searching for forms of do-it-yourself surgeries
- experiencing unhappiness about a physical feature regardless of what you do to change it
- feeling anger from a perceived lack of ability to make changes to their “defect”
- feeling obsessed about a particular part of the body
- continuing to make changes regardless of previous attempts
- experiencing suicidal thoughts (Because of the anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction that can come with BDD, there can be a high amount of suicide attempts.)
Those who are in treatment for cosmetic surgery addiction, or BDD, participate in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This type of therapy examines the thoughts and beliefs of a person in order to change his or her associated behavior. In this case, a therapist might help a person explore the thoughts related to the way they see their body, and as a result, replace them with new thoughts, facilitating a new body image and sense of self. Sometimes, medication might be used to reduce the level of anxiety and fear. Often, a combination of medication and therapy is the most effective.
If you notice any of the above listed signs in yourself or someone else, contact a mental health professional today.
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