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What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?


Body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a mental illness with features of an eating disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. As with an eating disorder, BDD involves a concern with body image. A person with BDD is often more concerned with a specific body part rather than the general weight or shape of their body. Generally, this disorder begins in the teen years or early adulthood, and can affect men and women equally.


Because people with BDD have distorted views of themselves, their behavior can often be harmful or socially avoidant. Some warning signs of those with BDD might include engaging in repetitive or time-consuming behavior like looking in the mirror or picking at the skin. People with BDD might also constantly ask for reassurance, experience problems at school or work, avoid being in public or repeatedly consult a medical specialist (especially a plastic surgeon or dermatologist).


Because there is secrecy and shame surrounding the disorder, those with BDD often do not consult a doctor. However, seeking help is the best option.

When diagnosing BDD, a doctor will evaluate a patient with a complete history and physical examination. If a doctor suspects BDD, they might recommend a psychiatrist or psychologist. That specialist will then make a diagnosis based on their evaluation of the patient.

What Causes BDD?

Though the exact cause of BDD is unknown, there are several theories that suggest a cause of the disorder. Factors that might influence the development of BDD include low self-esteem, the experience of traumatic events or emotional conflict or association with those who are critical of a patient’s appearance.

BDD often occurs in people with other mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.


BDD can be treated through a number of therapies like psychotherapy or group therapy. Psychotherapy is a type of individual counseling that focuses on changing thinking and behavior. In the case of BDD, a psychotherapist might correct the false belief about the defect. In group therapy, a person might build a support system.

For those who receive and follow treatment, the likelihood of recovery is high.

Source: Cleveland Clinic