What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?


Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is quite common among individuals who are preoccupied with their physical appearances, even though these flaws may be imagined or minimal. Because of some similarities between them, it’s often referred to as an OCD-like disorder. BDD should be diagnosed correctly and treated appropriately because failure to do so can lead to severe disruption in social functioning as well as overall quality of life; not only does this condition have a higher risk for suicide but also other problems relating to mental health might occur simultaneously or subsequently. This article reviews some studies conducted on BDD such as prevalence rates, symptoms experienced by patients at different stages over time and comorbidities associated with it among others.

Additionally, recent findings regarding brain involvement in this illness are discussed alongside cognitive distortions displayed by those suffering from BDD. Finally, therapeutic interventions that yield positive outcomes like serotonin reuptake inhibitors combined with CBT will be explored based on the latest research updates. 


Those who have BDD might fixate on a body feature, such as a blemish, scar, or size/shape/symmetry of a certain part. What sets these apart is their intrusiveness and persistence; they come at any time and refuse to leave. Because the sufferer usually cannot stop thinking about this perceived defect no matter what she does.

Read more – Strategies for Addressing Body Image Concerns in Bipolar Disorder

Living with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) for an extended period can lead individuals to perceive their experiences as normal, despite the significant disruption it causes to their daily functioning. The incessant mental energy consumed by managing these distressing thoughts often leaves little room for engaging in other activities. If you suspect someone close may be suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, look out for signs like: 

  1. Frequently changing positions 
  2. Covering up with clothes what one dislikes about oneself physically
  3. Taking too much care over an appearance by grooming excessively or using makeup too often. 
  4. Trying to enhance other features to draw attention away from the perceived flaw. 
  5. Checking one’s reflection in mirrors repeatedly throughout the day 
  6. Desiring cosmetic surgery or any other form of treatment meant to change one’s appearance permanently 
  7. Seeking constant reassurance from others regarding that specific part or trait that bothers them most 
  8. Picking at the skin (e.g., scabs) 
  9. Putting on hats/scarves/gloves even when it’s not cold outside just because they help hide what he doesn’t want others to see. 

These physical concerns are addressed through repeated actions undertaken by individuals diagnosed with BDD. However, despite their frequency (which can amount to many hours per day) relief gained remains temporary at best. The level of anguish experienced by those afflicted with BDD is so high that socializing becomes impossible and work/school performance takes a back seat. 


No cause of BDD has been identified. It is considered to be influenced by a variety of factors, such as: 

  • Past abuse includes traumatic experiences that can stimulate distorted self-perception while triggering events involving criticism that deteriorate existing insecurities. 
  • Nature of triggering events: includes psychological triggers, environmental triggers etc. 
  • Neurological variation is related to differences in function that can potentially impact perception.
  • Experiences of bullying create a negative feedback loop that is amplified by existing body image concerns. 
  • Genetic predisposition is identified as a family history of BDD or similar disorders.
  • Social/interpersonal relationship context includes cultural and social factors due to which a personality develops. 


Complications that may be caused by or associated with body dysmorphic disorder include, for example: 

  • Low self-esteem 
  • Social isolation 
  • Major depression or other mood disorders 
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviour 
  • Anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Substance misuse 
  • Health problems from behaviours such as skin-picking
  • Physical pain or risk of disfigurement due to repeated surgical interventions 


How is Body Dysmorphic Diagnosed? 

There aren’t any scientific assessments that may diagnose BDD. A mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, can diagnose BDD by conducting interviews to observe signs and symptoms, inquire about behaviour patterns and lifestyle, and utilize screening tools like questionnaires or checklists to assess whether you meet the criteria for this condition.

Is body dysmorphic sickness tough to diagnose? 

Most humans with BDD don’t get a prognosis until 10 to 15 years after the signs and symptoms end up critical enough to satisfy the standards for diagnosis. That’s partly due to the fact they don’t recognize the thoughts and emotions they enjoy are symptoms of a mental fitness condition or due to the fact they’re ashamed or afraid to ask for help. 

Read More: Critical Exploration of Body Positivity Movement

This means it’s crucial to speak about BDD if you observe signs of it in yourself or a loved one. Talking approximately the signs of this situation and getting help with it before it reaches excessive degrees will let you or a loved one avoid its most excessive outcomes. 

Management and Treatment 

BDD isn’t curable, but it’s treatable. Like many intellectual fitness situations, treating BDD frequently includes a mixture of methods, consisting of: 

  • Psychotherapy: This is the technical term for mental fitness remedy, and there is more than one sort of psychotherapy that might help. Psychotherapy focuses on talking approximately what you sense or experience, and assisting you expand useful idea methods and coping strategies. Two of the maximum not unusual types used in treating BDD are cognitive behavioural remedy (CBT) and family remedy. 
  • Medications: Antidepressants are a common part of the remedy for BDD. These medicines can help with symptoms of BDD and make it easier to manage thoughts and behaviour. 

Lifestyle and Home Remedies 

Living with body dysmorphia can be difficult, but there are ways to improve your treatment plan from home: 

  • Stick with Your Plan: Attend therapy sessions and take medications regularly so that symptoms do not come back or worsen.
  • Educate Yourself: Empower yourself by studying your condition; it will also help you remain motivated through the process of being treated. 
  • Identifying Warning Signs: Consulting a healthcare professional could help recognize triggers and come up with a plan to manage any recurrent signs and symptoms. 
  • Put Into Action Strategies: One should practice what was taught in the therapy. Doing so will help to create stronger habits as well as maintain them over time.
  • Avoid Using Substances: Alcohol and drugs should be avoided because they may intensify symptoms or interfere with prescribed medicines. 
  • Keep Active: Do physical activities such as walking, swimming or gardening as these can help alleviate depression, stress and anxiety. However, avoid excessive exercise as a coping mechanism too. 

By following these lifestyle changes you will support professional treatment while improving general health at the same time. 

Coping and Assistance 

Improve your coping techniques by talking to a health worker or mental health professional, this can also be done by finding out ways of concentrating on recognizing, monitoring and replacing negative thoughts and actions towards your physical appearance. 

Below are some considerations for coping with body dysmorphic syndrome: 

  • Avoid making life-changing choices when under intense grief or sorrow because at that moment everything might seem dark thus leading to regrets.
  • Diary writing: This is important as it helps in identifying negative thoughts; emotions and behaviours hence helping you know better about yourself.
  • Never shun away from people: Try involving yourself in social events; and meeting friends or even family members who may have a positive influence on you.
  • Keep your mind fixed on the target: Remember that healing takes time so always stay focused by reminding yourself about the things that you want to achieve during the recovery process. 
  • Learn how to relax as well as manage stress: Consider trying out different methods such as meditation, and deep breathing among others used in reducing anxiety levels. 
  • Look for support groups: Interact with others going through similar difficulties.
  • Take care of yourself: Ensure you feed well (healthy diet), engage in regular exercises and get enough sleep. 

Given the urgency for resolving Body Dysmorphic Disorder, if you suspect signs in someone you love, it’s advisable to recommend that person to a psychologist. Making the first step without delay will affect the potential management of symptoms and lead to improved general daily condition. Seeking professional assistance from early appearances will result in a faster recovery and a better quality of life. Identifying the disorder at the initial stage will enable a person to obtain the required assistance and knowledge to resolve its issues while remaining healthier and happier. 

References +
  1. What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder? Bjornsson, A. S., Didie, E. R., & Phillips, K. A. (2010). Body dysmorphic disorder. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 12(2), 221-232. 
  2. Symptoms and causes. Clarke, J. (2021, January 21) Verywell mind https://www.verywellmind.com/signs-symptoms-and-treatment-of-body-dysmorph ic-disorder-4153269 
  3. Diagnosis, Management and Treatment https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9888-body-dysmorphic-disorder (2023, November 01) Cleveland Clinic
  4. Home remedies, Coping strategies https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder/diagno sis-treatment/DRC-20353944 MayoClinic

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