Why not join Chat or find more information on the Phobia Support Forum

What You Need To Know About Body Dysmorphic Disorder

No one is perfect; we all have that part of our body which we wish we can improve on. Some will like to have a straighter nose; others need ears that are even or dimples when they smile. We have our imperfections and may wish to have a better one but they don’t generally affect the quality of our daily lives. But that’s not the case with people with a condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Those with this condition think about their real or perceived flaws at every moment. People with BDD focus on something about their appearance that may be real or imagined. The defect or flaw people with this condition focused on may not be observable to others or appear only slight.

Generally, these preoccupations can focus on any body part. However, the most common areas are the nose, skin, and hair. For instance, A BDD patient may think that her nose is very large, while everybody else sees her nose as normal.

In most cases, this people cannot control their negative thoughts about their so-called flaws and they don’t believe those that tell them that they look normal. This constant anxiety about their appearance may lead to severe emotional distress and can interfere with their daily activities. It can lead to them missing school or work, avoid social functions and isolating themselves from everyone else including from their family and friends from fear of their “flaws or defect” being noticed by others.

It is not uncommon to find people with this condition looking to get plastic surgery to correct their perceived imperfection. In most cases, they will still not be satisfied with the result of the surgery.

What Are the Causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder in most cases start at adolescent stage. Recent research into this problem has shown that about 1% of United States population is suffering from BDD, it affects both men and women equally and at the moment, the causes are unclear. Some researchers believed that certain biological and even environmental factors may contribute to the development of body dysmorphic disorder, including genetic predisposition, neurobiological factor like improper functioning of serotonin in the brain, life experiences and even personality traits.

What Are the Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Those suffering from BDD are usually obsessed with their appearance. This obsession can last for over an hour or even the whole day. They generally find it very hard to resist or control their obsession with part of their body which forces them to focus on anything but their perceived flaws or defects. This situation can lead to other problems such as avoidance of social gathering, feeling of low self-esteem, and problems at place of work or study.

In some extreme cases, patients of BDD totally avoid leaving homes in order to prevent others from seeing their flaws. There are some who go to the extent of contemplating or attempting suicide.

Most of the victims also embark on some type of compulsive behavior in order to hide their imperfections. Some of these behaviors include:

  • Picking their skin
  • Going for surgery
  • Camouflaging (with clothing, body position, makeup, hats, etc.)
  • Excessive grooming
  • Checking a mirror
  • Avoiding mirror
  • Excessive exercise
  • Comparing with other people appearance

How Can BDD be Diagnosed and Treated?

Patients with BDD exhibit symptoms mentioned above. They also suffer from the anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as well as eating disorders and depression.

Care must be taken not to confuse BDD with other disorders since they have similar symptoms.

Patients will need to talk to a qualified doctor or mental health professional about his condition so that the appropriate method can be used to treat the disease.

Some methods that are common in treatment of Body Dysmorphic Disorder include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This treatment is targeted at letting the patients know and be able to recognize irrational thought patterns and change those negative thinking patterns with good ones.

Antidepressant Medications

In some cases, doctors will prescribe antidepressant medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in order to help the patient relieve the obsessive and compulsive symptoms of this condition.


Suffering from BDD is not the end of the world. If you find yourself or your loved one with this condition, you can let them know how normal they look. Additionally, take them to a qualified health professional for treatment. In most cases, these professionals will use more than one method for optimal and fast result.