Body dysmorphic disorder

Head | Psychiatry | Body dysmorphic disorder (Disease)


Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a medical condition associated with mental illness. It’s a somatoform disorder characterized by the excessive concern of a person with body image, obsessing with physical defects of themselves. Body dysmorphic disorder has sometimes been called imagined ugliness and usually starts in adolescence. It affects men and women in similar numbers.

Signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include: preoccupation with your physical appearance; strong belief that you have an abnormality or defect in your appearance that makes you ugly; frequent examination of yourself in the mirror or, conversely, avoidance of mirrors altogether; frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction; extreme self-consciousness; refusal to appear in pictures; skin picking; comparison of your appearance with that of others; the need to wear excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws; anxiety; possible panic attacks, problems initiating and maintaining relationships.

Causes and Risk factors

Its not known specifically what causes body dysmorphic disorder. Like many other mental illnesses, body dysmorphic disorder may result from a combination of causes: brain chemical differences, structural brain differences, genes, environment.

Certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering the condition, including: having biological relatives with body dysmorphic disorder; childhood teasing; low self-esteem; societal pressure or expectations of beauty; having another psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety or depression.

Diagnosis and Treatment

There are two main treatments for body dysmorphic disorder: cognitive behavioral therapy, based on avoiding obsessive behavior, and medications. Although there are no medications specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat body dysmorphic disorder, psychiatric medications used to treat other conditions, such as depression, can be prescribed. ...