HOW BDD AFFECTS LIVES:: HOSPITALIZATION

Posted on July 19th, 2011, by admin

BDD commonly leads to hospitalization. Hospitalization occurs for a variety of reasons, including depression due to BDD, accidents, a suicide attempt, or because unsuccessful medical or surgical treatment spurs suicidal thoughts or plans. Nearly 40% of the people in my studies have been psychiatrically hospitalized. Twenty-six percent attributed at least one psychiatric hospitalization primarily to their BDD symptoms.You may recall that in the only psychiatric impatient study that’s been done in BDD, 13% of the patients had BDD. This finding is surprising, because BDD isn’t usually looked for or recognized in inpatient settings. In this study, BDD was much more common than many other psychiatric disorders. Thirteen of the 16 patients with BDD considered BDD their biggest problem or a major problem. Those with BDD were more severely ill than those who didn’t have it, and their overall functioning was poorer.I’m aware of several young people who had such severe BDD that they had to go to live in a nursing home. They hadn’t responded to numerous treatments and hospitalizations, and they were so incapacitated by their symptoms that neither they nor their family members could care for them.I met Lawrence in the hospital after he’d tried to kill himself. He was agitated, anxious, and very depressed. This is how he described the reason he was in the hospital. “When I started graduate school in physics, I was troubled by not having many friends and also by a sense of my dramatically receding hairline. My hair had been very slowly receding for some time, but in the past month it became very quick. A few weeks ago I examined my hair and noticed excessive hair loss and decreased density in the front. Even on a daily basis I could see the change. Lots of hair came out in the shower in my hand.”I worried about how I would have to present myself with my new appearance to my old friends. I also worried about how I could meet new people with my hair the way it was. My self-esteem plummeted, and I felt like a social failure. I couldn’t concentrate on my studies. I started to wonder if people were talking about me or laughing at me.”In the past week I started to panic. I felt very anxious. I was worrying more and more about how I  looked and what other people thought of me. I worried that it would get worse and that I’d become bald. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I felt I was falling apart. I was crying, looking at myself in the mirror. I thought I was collapsing, eroding, and I tried to kill myself.”When his family came to visit him in the hospital, Lawrence hadn’t been able to tell them why he was there. “I’m much too embarrassed to tell them about it,” he said. “I’m afraid they won’t take it seriously. I’m afraid people will think it’s trivial, silly, or pitiful. I’m afraid they’ll see me as vain. And if I bring it up, I’m afraid they’ll notice how bad my hair is.”      J;Even when BDD symptoms are this severe, many people never discuss them. They keep them a secret not only from family but also from hospital staff. BDD symptoms are usually never even mentioned in the medical record, even for patients whose main problem is BDD.*144\204\8*

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