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Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

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.
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How do I know if I have ADHD? Does my child have ADHD?

Many people with ADHD aren't aware they have it. They will be aware however that everyday tasks seem more difficult for them than for others. Typical symptoms are finding it hard to focus, missing deadlines and trouble controlling impulses, ranging from impatience to mood swings and outbursts of anger. Other symptoms include:

  • Trouble multitasking.
  • Excessive activity or restlessness.
  • Poor planning.
  • Hot temper.
  • Trouble coping with stress.

What ADHD is not

The above list may be familiar to most people at different times in their lives. If these symptoms occur only occasionally, they probably don't have ADHD. A doctor usually diagnoses when someone’s symptoms cause problems that stop a person working, finding stable housing, or living normally and safely.

Diagnosis of ADHD in adults is often trickier because the same symptoms also occur in mental health conditions, such as anxiety or mood disorders. Many adults with ADHD also have at least one other mental health condition (depression and anxiety are the most common).

At what age do ADHD symptoms appear?

Symptoms usually start before the age of 12 and continue into adulthood.

How long does ADHD last?

ADHD is a lifelong condition, though it often becomes less marked in adulthood. But it can be effectively managed. The first step is to see a doctor and start seeking a diagnosis.

How many people have ADHD?

In the UK, the incidence of ADHD in school-aged children is thought to be between 3 and 5%. In adults it is between 3 and 4%.

What causes ADHD?

We still don’t know for sure. An enormous amount of research is focused on finding the causes of ADHD. Factors that may be involved include:

  • Genetics.
  • Environment.
  • Problems during development.

What are the risk factors for ADHD?

The risk of a person developing ADHD may increase if:

  • Family members suffer from ADHD.
  • During pregnancy the mother smokes, drinks, or uses drugs.
  • A child is premature.

What are the impacts of delayed diagnosis of ADHD?

ADHD has been linked to:

  • Poor school or work performance.
  • Unemployment.
  • Financial problems.
  • Trouble with the police.
  • Alcohol or drug misuse.
  • Unstable relationships.
  • Poor self-esteem.

How is ADHD diagnosed?

Making the diagnosis normally includes:

  • Asking questions about symptoms and family medical history.
  • ADHD tests to measure symptoms.

What are the treatments for ADHD?

ADHD is normally treated through a two-pronged approach:

  • Medication.
  • Therapy.

ADHD medication

Doctors might prescribe stimulants for ADHD – which might seem counterintuitive, but has a strong evidence basis for regulating brain activity.

Some ADHD patients might also benefit from antidepressants or other medication, but in every case a doctor is best placed to advise on what to take.

Therapy for ADHD

Psychotherapy is indicated for people with ADHD but behavioural therapies can also help manage traits that make people with ADHD disorganised, and teach useful skills as well.

Help and information about ADHD

ADHD (NHS Choices)

NHS Choices provides information about the signs, symptoms and treatment for depression.

ADHD Foundation

For people with an ADHD diagnoses, this charity provides resources and advocacy.

Young Minds

Aimed at young people, this profile of ADHD explains what it is, how to seek treatment and mental health concerns for people with ADHD in a clear and straightforward way.

Click here to see practitioners who specialise in

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

Do I have BDD?

A person suffering from BDD will worry obsessively about a perceived flaw in 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.

What BDD is not

BDD is not a normal preoccupation with one’s appearance which does not interfere with a person’s daily life.

How many people have BDD?

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.

What causes body dysmorphia?

There are many causes of BDD. It is often more of a symptom than a separate condition. Causes include:

  • Abuse or bullying.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Fear of being alone.
  • Perfectionism.
  • Genetics.
  • Depression, anxiety or OCD.

What treatments for BDD are there?

There is no specific medical treatment for BDD. However, therapy is very helpful in getting to the root of the problem.

What should I do if I am worried I have BDD ?

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.

Other helpful BDD resources


A charity for anyone with an OCD diagnosis, including BDD. It also runs a helpline.

Body dysmorphia (NHS)

NHS Choices explains the symptoms and NHS treatment for BDD.