World-first Australian trial uses eye retraining to combat body insecurities

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-14 12:24:56|Editor: Liangyu
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MELBOURNE, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Australian researchers on Wednesday began a world-first trial of treating body dysmorphia disorder (BDD) with visual retraining.

BDD is a mental health condition that results in exaggerated perception of personal appearance, often causing harmful insecurities and, in some cases, causing patients to commit suicide.

Using eye-tracking technology, researchers from Swinburne University of Technology will monitor how BDD patients view faces and bodies.

Participants will then be put through visual retraining in the hope of aligning their visual patterns with that of an average person.

Susan Rossell, the lead researcher of the trial, said that BDD was often associated with anomalies in processing stimuli.

She said people with the disorder were more likely to focus on smaller details instead of the "big picture."

"This includes difficulties with face and emotion recognition, object recognition and attention," Rossell said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Treatment for BDD typically focuses on reducing symptoms and distress, not changing visual perception.

"Our program is unique as it focuses on addressing visual aspects of the disorder."

The trial is just one part of Swinburne's multi-faceted approach to combatting BDD.

In a study published by the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Orders, researchers fro the university explored the relationship between BDD and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

They found that levels of depression and anxiety were similar among people suffering BDD and OCD.

"Individuals with either disorder are likely to engage in repetitive or ritualistic behaviors, for instance, involving repeated checking, but in BDD these actions tend to manifest in areas related to one's physical appearance, such as checking how they look in mirrors or other reflective surfaces," Rossell said.

"These activities can take up to three hours a day for those with BDD."