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Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), also known as dysmorphophobia, is a psychiatric disorder consisting of a distressing and impairing preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in appearance. There is a high degree of association with other psychiatric disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Whilst BDD has been shown to be a relatively common disorder it can go unrecognised as the patient is often secretive about their distress. Although BDD is technically a psychiatric disorder there are associations with decreased levels of serotonin – an important a neurotransmitter in the brain associated with, amongst other factors, mood, sleep and appetite.

Recent treatment studies show that the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used in the treatment of depression and cognitive behavioural therapy, used simultaneously or alone, can be beneficial in alleviating the distress and impairment associated with the condition. SSRIs are widely used in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders and work by increasing serotonin levels.

According to an 8-week study published in March 2008, however, EPA (a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid derived from fish) has equally therapeutic effects in major depressive disorder as the SSRI Prozac. EPA plays a vital role in the brain, remodelling neurons, improving blood flow to important areas of the brain, increasing chemical messaging and therefore enhancing neurotransmitter function.

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