Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person is preoccupied with thoughts about flaws in their appearance and looks. All these perceived thoughts can affect our self confidence. They are either too minor or are not usually seen by others. It affects both men and women.

Statistics has shown that the prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder affects approximately 2.0% of the general population, but the condition may be more common in some groups, such as teens and young adults, women or people with a pre-existing psychiatric condition

BDD is experienced in both men and women, although women tend to have the condition at a higher rate.

People who have body dysmorphia, tend to focus so much on their appearance and body image. They repeatedly check the mirror and are very conscious of their grooming and constantly seek validation many times in each day. All these perceived flaw and the repetitive behaviors cause you significant distress and go as far as disrupting your daily life.

Causes of body dysmorphia

The main cause of BDD  is unknown. It usually occur as a result of several issues such as a family history of the disorder, brain abnormalities and negative evaluations from people, or other experiences about your body or self-image.

A few things that can trigger BDD include:

  • A traumatic experience
  • Peer pressure
  • Societal pressure or expectations of beauty
  • Low self-esteem
  • Having people around you such as parents friends, etc who constantly criticize someone’s appearance.

Signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic syndrome.

They include:

  • Strong belief that you have a defect in your appearance that makes you look ugly or deformed.
  • Avoiding social situations mostly for fear of embarrassment
  • Being  overly concerned about a perceived flaw in appearance that looks minor or unnoticeable to others
  • Often comparing your appearance with others
  • Having a strong feeling that others take note of your appearance in a negative way or mock you
  • Engaging in behaviors aimed at fixing or hiding the perceived flaw such as frequently checking the mirror, grooming or skin picking
  • Go through a lot of effort to conceal flaws with makeup or clothing
  • Constantly seeking validation about your appearance from others
  • Always want to be perfect and look perfect.



Some complications associated with body dysmorphia include:

  • Major depression or other mood disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Suicidal thoughts and ideations
  • Eating disorders
  • Might undergo many surgical procedures in an attempt to correct their perceived defect this might lead to risk of disfigurement
  • Anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
  • Substance abuse

Seeking help

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above You should see your doctor.

They will likely ask you a few questions about some of the symptoms you are experiencing to determine how it affects your life. This will help them come up with a diagnosis. You may be treated by your doctor or you might be referred to a mental health specialist for further assessment and treatment.

Seeking help for BDD might be very difficult but always know that you have nothing to be embarrassed about.

Although getting help for BDD is not easy but it is important you do so because your symptoms might not go away without treatment and may even get worse.

Treatments for body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

The symptoms of BDD can get better with treatment. Here are some of the treatment options your doctor might suggest;

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

It is used for the mild symptoms of BDD. This therapy helps you learn what triggers your symptoms and teaches you various ways to deal with them each time they come up. It basically changes the way you think and behave. You and your therapist will agree on what works best for you and goals for the therapy and work together to reach them.

CBT usually involves a  procedure known as exposure and response prevention (ERP).This involves gradually facing situations that would normally make you think obsessively about your appearance and feel anxious

2. Medications

Medications are usually given for moderate symptoms. Examples include

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): These are a type of antidepressant. There are different types of SSRIs, but fluoxetine is the type mostly recommended for treating BDD.

these medication takes time to work. It may take upto 12 weeks for them to start treating BDD symptoms. There are some common side effects of taking SSRIs, but they usually go away within a few weeks.

Your doctor will keep a close eye on you over the first few weeks. Try to inform him or her if you are experiencing any side effect from the medication.

If you’ve not had symptoms for 6 to 12 months, you’ll probably be taken off SSRIs.

If treatment with both CBT and an SSRI does not improved your symptoms after 12 weeks, you may be prescribed another type of SSRI or another antidepressant called clomipramine.

If no improvements is observed, you may be referred to a mental health clinic or hospital that specializes in BDD, They will likely dig deeper to assess your BDD.

Some daily habits to help you cope with body dysmorphic disorder

  1. You can keep a journal
  2. Don’t isolated yourself; try and hang out with friends
  3. Take care of yourself
  4. Be mindful of your thoughts
  5. Join a support group
  6. Stay focused on your goals
  7. Learn relaxation and stress management
  8. Don’t make important decisions when you’re feeling despair or distress.
  9. See a specialist if you need help.