Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition characterised by obsessive thoughts about the body and perceived imperfections. Therapy can help support people with BDD and can also treat the condition itself.
A person suffering from BDD will worry obsessively about a perceived flaw in the way the way their body looks (but others will not notice it) and/or will develop compulsive behaviours and routines, such as constantly looking in the mirror or picking at their skin to help them deal with these concerns.
These obsessions and behaviours will cause them emotional distress and have a significant impact on their everyday lives. BDD is a close relative of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). For those suffering from the disorder, concerns around appearance may make it difficult to go out in public or see others.
BDD can vary in severity from person to person and from day to day.
However, people diagnosed with the disorder are likely to have been diagnosed with another mental health condition, such as major depression, social phobia, alcohol/substance misuse or eating disorders.
Many people with BDD take a long while to seek help because they feel they will be judged and seen as self-obsessed.
BDD is not a normal preoccupation with one’s appearance which does not interfere with a person’s daily life.
About 0.5% of people in the UK may suffer from BDD. This is spread equally between women and men. That equates to about 310,000 adults and children across the country.
There are many causes of BDD. It is often more of a symptom than a separate condition. Causes include:
There is no specific medical treatment for BDD. However, therapy is very helpful in getting to the root of the problem.
If you are concerned about yourself or your child having a body dysmorphic disorder, talk to someone about it. See your GP or book an appointment with one of our specialist team to discuss your concerns.
A charity for anyone with an OCD diagnosis, including BDD, it also runs a helpline.
NHS Choices explains the symptoms and NHS treatment for BDD.