Body Dysmorphia: Definition, Symptoms, and Treatment

Body Dysmorphia
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Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), commonly known as Body Dysmorphia is a severe mental illness. It is a condition where people fixate on their appearance. From minor defects on their bodies to something more major, people with body dysmorphia dwell over their “imperfections”.

What is Body Dysmorphia?

BDD is nothing less than any other severe mental disorders that humans suffer from. A person suffering from BDD is mostly consumed by the thought that there is something wrong with their bodies.

They’re excessively concerned about their body image and tend to pick on the tiniest of things. The sufferers of BDD obsess over defects that others mostly can’t see or often imagine it.
They let the feelings of despair and desperation eat them up. As a result, they shun themselves from social surroundings and turn to “alternatives” like isolation or plastic surgery. Many-a-times, BDD can also lead to other mental disorders, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.

Understanding Body Dysmorphia.

Body dysmorphia is often compared with other mental disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or eating disorders.

People with OCD suffer from distressing fears and doubts that they often can’t control. This leads them to come up with a set of routines they need to follow at all times. And as long as they follow these routines, they’re fine.

However, with BDD the sufferer becomes overly obsessed with their “defects”. It eventually ends up affecting their entire life including personal, social, and professional.

Similarly, when someone suffers from an eating disorder, it mostly has to do with their weight or the shape of their bodies. But in BDD, they’re mostly concerned with a specific part of the body.

It is in fact a chronic disorder that usually begins during adolescence leading up to early adulthood. And it can affect people of all genders.


Even though it is a common and chronic disorder, the exact cause of BDD is still unknown. Therefore, it becomes hard to diagnose anyone with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

However, there are certain warning signs that hint that people might have BDD.

Here are some common symptoms of people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

  • Constantly fixating on their appearance
  • Overly obsess over defects that seem minor to others
  • Avoidance or obsession with mirrors
  • Constantly picking on the skin or areas of a perceived flaw
  • Comparing yourself to others in excess amount and strongly believe that you have a defect
  • Seeking reassurance with others all the time
  • Feeling conscious and anxious around people
  • Keeping away from social situations
  • Opting for cosmetic procedures like plastic surgery to improve appearance.

Causes and Complications.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a common mental illness millions of people suffer from. However, it’s hard to make a proper diagnosis especially due to the unknown specific cause.

Experts debate the exact cause of body dysmorphia. Most believe that it is a result of multiple issues like family history, other mental disorders, abnormalities, and previous negative experiences.

These causes lead to complications like suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety disorder, substance misuse, etc.


Since the diagnosis of BDD is a bit difficult, its treatment can be complicated as well. However, it’s not entirely impossible.

Experts use a combination of different treatment methods to treat BDD.

They use Psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to treat the thinking of sufferers and lessen their fixation.

Another common treatment is to use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). It helps them realize that their perception of themselves isn’t accurate.

Doctors also use group or family therapy in order to treat BDD. It helps both patient and their close ones to understand their condition and treat it better.

Lastly, medications also help treat BDD. An antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) is a well-known medicine that works in treating BDD. Other medicines like pimozide and aripiprazole also work well.

Also Read: Beating Depression and Anxiety.

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Talks to self, more than others. Watches "the Office" all night and quotes Michael Scott all day.
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