Neurofeedback helps with Body Dysmorphic Disorder and comobidities

Body Dysmorphia (BDD) is often undisclosed by the patient, yet has life-changing consequences. 

BDD has non-specific neurological signatures.  With a Kaiser Neuromap we can identify vulnerability to BDD as well as other frequent comorbidities. 

Applying neurofeedback through Personalised Brain Training can resolve many of these issues.

What is Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD)?

Body Dysmorphia is a visual hypersensitivity in face and body perception, in particular one’s own, combined with compulsive elements.  It shares aspects of OCD, and is in fact comorbid in a third of patients, along with substance-use disorders (30-49%) and social phobia (c.38%).  

Over 80% of BDD (Body Dysmorphia Disorder) sufferers report suicidal ideation, with 25% making an actual attempt. 

Impulsive aggression is common, with almost half reporting violent behaviour.  

Two thirds of BDD sufferers seek cosmetic treatment, which rarely improves symptoms. 

While the official prevalence of BDD is c. 2%, or one in 50, this increases substantially in clinical settings – up to 53% in cosmetic surgery.  

The condition is often not diagnosed, with one study showing that only 15% (one in seven) disclosed body image concerns to their mental health practitioner, largely citing embarrassment as the reason.  

BDD is life-changing in other ways:  sufferers are less likely to be married, more likely to be divorced, and much more likely to be unemployed. 

A major issue is compulsive, and intrusive thoughts – most BDD sufferers spend more than three hours a day thinking about their disliked body parts.  These urges are difficult to resist or control, and their intrusiveness are associated with anxiety and distress, leading to violence, mood disorders and suicidal ideation. 

Current remedies include SSRI (high dose) prescription in the UK, as well as CBT.  

Neurofeedback training is a non-invasive, medication-free complementary therapy.  We work on preconscious processes, and the positive effects are demonstrably lasting

DSM-IV Definition of BDD

The DSM-IV defines Body Dysmorphia Disorder as follows: 

A) “Preoccupation with an imagined defect in appearance. If a slight physical anomaly is present, the person’s concern is markedly excessive.”

B) “The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”

C) “The preoccupation is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (eg, dissatisfaction with body shape and size in anorexia nervosa).”

Neurology of Body Dysmorphia Disorder

fMRI signature of Body Dysmorphia Disorder
qEEG brain map of Body Dysmorphia Disorder showing neuromarker

Studies have shown that there are neurological differences in people with Body Dysmorphia Disorder.  By identifying neuromarkers, we can assess vulnerability using a qEEG brain map (Kaiser Neuromap), and then train the affected brain areas accordingly using neurofeedback.

The condition affects higher order visual processing areas, which relates to the emphasis on face and body recognition and the over-attention to detail. 

Also, prefrontal areas pertaining to self-monitoring, risk-taking and empathy are activated differently in BDD. 

Sub-cortical structures involved in reward processing see similar activations. 

BDD has many comorbidities, including anxieties, social phobia, depression and OCD.  Impulsive aggression (violence) and suicidal ideation are also common, as are intrusive thoughts.  

From our experience, these issues show up as vulnerabilities on a Kaiser Neuromap, and we can work on them accordingly using Personalised Brain Training. 

Famous People with Body Dysmorphia Disorder

Famous people with BDD (Body Dysmorphia Disorder) include:

Billie Eilish

Reid Ewing

Robert Pattinson

Franz Kafka

Sylvia Plath

Andy Warhol

Michael Jackson

Shirley Manson

The Process:

Step 1: Brain Map

A qEEG recording takes about 45minutes for a 20 minute recording.

A cap with 19 sensors is is fitted to our head and gels inserted to ensure connectivity.  The sensors only read – there is a tiny voltage on the surface of our head that these pick up.  The gels are easily washed out later.  This is also the last time we wear the cap (until a remap after ten sessions); training is done with single sensors. 

We analyse the data with Kaiser Neuromap software which gives us a unique view into character traits and vulnerabilities.  

Findings are presented in a separate one-hour conversation where we discuss the key elements.

Step 2: Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback process explained, illustrating real-time analysis of brain waves and feedback given

 We use a movie of choice as the feedback mechanism – our conscious mind engages with the film, and feedback is delivered by small changes in volume or picture size.  

Our pre-conscious mind adapts its behaviour to preserve the more comfortable volume and picture size, and learning occurs. 

Volume changes are slight, not stop-start, and the process is enjoyable. 

Key is that we are interested in the movie – our conscious mind is engaged with the content, which forms the reward, and our preconscious mind – without our conscious effort – changes its behaviour in response to the feedback.

Capturing the ultradian cycle with neurofeedback Personalised Brain Training using Kaiser Neuromap

A two hour training session allows us to do 90-110 minutes of neurofeedback training during which we can work on various brain sites. 

This captures an entire ultradian rhythm cycle and corresponds to the approximate duration of feature film movies.  

We can start with shorter sessions as appropriate, mainly with children. 

Ideally, we do two or more sessions per week to start with.  

We would expect to see responsiveness within the first few sessions and remap after twenty hours or about ten sessions.  

Generally, we would expect to doing twenty sessions over two months, though this can vary substantially. 

We can also accommodate intensives, where we do two sessions per day over a number of days, and have had good results with these.