Olivia Newton-John’s Daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, Admits to Past Body Dysmorphia

Singer Chloe Lattanzi, daughter of singer/actress Olivia Newton-John, spoke about having Body Dysphoric Disorder on Wednesday’s episode of The Doctors. As the daughter of a prominent celebrity, Lattanzi grew up in the spotlight. As a teenager, when “less than flattering” comments were written about her looks, Chloe went from overeating to calorie restriction:

   “I went through this sort of chubby phase [as a kid]- I ate to comfort myself. I would see comments in magazines about how I was chubby. So around 16 I started to restrict food, exercise more.”

Along with anorexia, she suffered from anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and body dysmorphia, saying:

“I think so many young girls are going through body dysmorphia — we’re constantly told how we’re supposed to look via Instagram and filters. There’s constant pressure for us to look perfect…. When I was in the height of my body dysmorphia, I had a whole bunch of fillers.”

Lattanzi also had breast implants.

In 2013, she spent seven months in a rehab facility combating drug and alcohol addiction. She credits her relationship with her martial arts instructor and fiancé, James Driskill, with helping her get to a much healthier, happier place. She’s started recording again, and will release an album later this year.

“I look back at myself and I as a teenager and I’m like, ‘What a beautiful young woman,’” she says. “What was I thinking? Why was I so insecure?”

And she’s had all the filler removed from her face saying she likes ” the way I look naturally.”

What is body dysmorphia?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a relatively common body-image disorder characterized by persistent and intrusive preoccupations with an imagined or slight defect in one’s appearance. It is commonly believed to be part of the OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) spectrum.

The diagnostic criteria (as in DSM-5) include:

  • Preoccupation with an imagined defect in appearance. If a slight physical anomaly is present, the person’s concern is markedly excessive.
  • The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • The preoccupation is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (eg, dissatisfaction with body shape and size in anorexia nervosa).
  • Repetitive behaviors or mental acts in response to preoccupations with perceived defects or flaws in physical appearance.

BDDBDD is relatively common, with a prevalence of 0.7 to 2.4% of the general population. These estimates are probably low. Many patients do not report their symptoms to a physician as they are ashamed of their perceived defect and their preoccupation with it. BDD is slightly more common in women than men, although both sexes are affected. BDD usually begins in adolescence.

The most common preoccupations focus on the skin (73%) , hair (56%), or nose (37%), although any body part may the focus of attention. Skin complaints include scarring, acne or color. Patients can be concerned about hair loss or excess hairiness, or nose size or shape.

About 40% of patients with BDD actively think about the disliked body part for 3 to 8 hours/day and  25% think about them for more than 8 hrs/day!

Patients may also have what is called delusions of reference, meaning that they believe others “take special notice of them in a negative way or mock or ridicule them because of how they look.”

Compulsive, repetitive behaviors are also common, such as frequent checking in the mirror, picking at the skin, or frequent facial washing or hair brushing. As in OCD, these behaviors are not considered pleasurable. Although they may temporarily relieve anxiety, they are considered embarrassing. Other repetitive behaviors include tanning, seeking reassurance from others, excessive shopping for beauty products, excessive exercise and frequent clothing changes to find the most flattering outfit.

Safety behaviors include hiding disliked body parts with hats, sunglasses, makeup or clothing in the attempt to prevent embarrassment.

What is the prognosis for those with BDD?

Studies show that BDD tends to have a chronic course unless it is treated. It can be associated with substantial impairment with psycho-social functioning and a decreased quality of life. Patients with severe BDD are unable to work, be in or attend school or have healthy relationships.

The rates of suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and suicides are very high in patients with BDD. About 80% of patients admit to having suicidal thoughts at one time or another, and 25% have attempted suicide.

Many individuals with BDD also abuse alcohol or drugs problems. Other mental health disorders, such as depression or social phobias are also more common in patients with BDD.

A majority of patients with BDD (approx. 75%) seek cosmetic treatment for their perceived flaws. However, of those who undergo surgery, only a small percentage (about 4%) actually have improvement of their BDD symptoms.

How is BDD treated?

The main treatment options for BDD are:

  1. Medication with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs.  These include:  fluoxetine (Prozac®), fluvoxamine (Luvox®), escitalopram (Lexapro®), and citalopram (Celexa®). These medications are being prescribed “off label” as the FDA has not yet approved any medication for the treatment of BDD.
  2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  CBT is “problem focused” (undertaken for specific problems) and “action oriented” (therapist tries to assist the client in selecting specific strategies to help address those problems).  Early research suggests that CBT may be helpful in treating those with BDD.

Source: Bjornsson, et. al, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience

 

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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