Body dysmorphic disorder

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a psychological disorder in which even if an individual has nothing wrong with his appearance is still overly preoccupied about a small or made up defect in their appearance. It is more common for such people to find the defect in their face or skin, but there are also some who have an obsession with their body being asymmetrical or lacking muscle.


Why should I be aware of this?

There is no accurate estimation of the number of people affected because the disease is often under-diagnosed as most are unaware that they have it and are unwilling to come forward for treatment. These people also cannot control their negative thoughts concerning their appearance and are unaware that this is unnatural.

Body dysmorphic disorder and health

Body dysmorphic disorder can lead to other problems such as depression and social anxiety wherein they tend to avoid social situations such as school or work. In extreme cases it nay lead people to commit suicide.

Some people with BDD turn to plastic surgery to fix their appearance, but that too doesn’t solve the problem. Research has shown that after plastic surgery many patients moved their focus from whatever has been cosmetically altered onto another part. This can cause some people to become obsessed with plastic surgery, so psychiatric treatment is recommended.

All about body dysmorphic disorder

BDD affects both men and women and is most common in adolescents and many people who suffer from this have problems with more than one body part.


  • Excessive preoccupation with your physical appearance.
  • Harboring a belief that there is an abnormality or defect in you which is making you ugly.
  • You examine yourself frequently in front of the mirror, or avoid the mirror altogether.
  • Believe that others notice your appearance negatively.
  • Try out frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction.
  • Carry out excessive grooming
  • Feel extremely self-conscious
  • Refuse to be photographed
  • Compare your appearance with that of others
  • Avoid social situations
  • Try to camouflage what you believe are your flaws by wearing excessive makeup

Body features you may obsess about include:

  • Nose
  • Hair
  • Skin
  • Moles or freckles
  • Acne and blemishes
  • Baldness
  • Breast size
  • Muscle size
  • Genitalia


Though the exact causes are not known, researchers believe that, like many other mental illnesses, body dysmorphic disorder may result from a combination of causes:

  • Biochemical. Some evidence suggests that naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are linked to mood, may cause body dysmorphic disorder. In particular, the neurotransmitter serotonin may have a causal role.
  • Genes. Some studies show that body dysmorphic disorder is more common in people whose biological family members also have the condition. This may indicate a genetic pathway behind body dysmorphic disorder.
  • Environment. Your environment, life experiences and culture may contribute to body dysmorphic disorder, especially if they involve negative experiences about your body or self-image.


Researchers have identified the following factors that are likely to increase the risk of triggering the condition:

  • Having biological relatives with body dysmorphic disorder
  • Child Abuse
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Low self-esteem
  • Societal pressure or expectations of beauty


Treatment options: Psychotherapy and medications The two main treatments for body dysmorphic disorder are:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Medications

Often, a combination of two is used.

Psychotherapy Psychotherapy can help learn to stop automatic negative thoughts and to see yourself in a more realistic and positive way. You can also learn healthy ways to handle urges or rituals, such as mirror checking or skin picking.

Types of psychotherapy which can help are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Behavior therapy


There are no medications specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat body dysmorphic disorder. However, psychiatric medications used to treat other conditions, such as depression, can also be prescribed for body dysmorphic disorder.


Some cases may become so severe that it may require psychiatric hospitalization. Psychiatric hospitalization is generally recommended only when you aren't able to care for yourself properly or when you're in immediate danger of harming yourself or someone else.

What can I do?

  • Write in a journal expressing your pain, anger, fear or other emotions.
  • Avoid isolation and try to participate in normal activities
  • Eat a healthy diet and getting sufficient sleep.
  • Read self-help books and consider talking about them to your doctor or therapist.
  • Join a support group to connect with others facing similar challenges.
  • Stay focused and motivated by keeping your recovery goals in mind.


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  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder