Body dysmorphic disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to other people. Having Body dysmorphia does not mean you are self-obsessed. It can be very upsetting and can greatly impact on someone’s life. It affects people of all ages, but it is most common in teenagers and young adults. It also affects both men and women.

Body dysmorphic disorder can seriously affect your everyday life, including work, your social life and relationships. It can also lead to depression, self harm and even thoughts of suicide


You might have Body dysmorphic disorder if you:

• worry a lot about a specific area of your body (particularly your face)

• spend a lot of time comparing your looks with other people’s.

• look at yourself in mirrors a lot or avoid mirrors altogether.

• go to a lot of effort to conceal flaws for example, by spending a long time on your hair, applying make up or choosing clothes.

• pick at your skin to make it “smoother”.

Getting help for Body dysmorphic disorder

You should visit your doctor if you think you might have BDD.

They will probably ask a number of questions about your symptoms and how they affect you. They may also ask if you have had any thoughts about harming yourself.

Your doctor may refer you to a mental health specialist for further assessment and treatment, or you may be treated through your doctor.

It can be very difficult to seek help for BDD, but it’s important to remember that you have nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. Seeking help is important because your symptoms probably won’t go away without treatment and could even get worse.

Treatments for Body dysmorphic disorder

The symptoms of BDD can get better with treatment.

• if you have relatively mild symptoms of BDD you should be referred for a type of talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which you have either on your own or in a group.

• if you have moderate symptoms of BDD you should be offered either CBT or a type of antidepressant medication called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)

• if you have severe symptoms of BDD, or other treatments don’t work, you should be offered CBT together with an SSRI

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