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Anxiety Disorders

Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder: A Simple Guide

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Imagine looking in the mirror and seeing a tiny flaw on your face or body that no one else seems to notice. Now, imagine that tiny flaw feels so huge to you that it’s all you can think about, making it hard to go about your day. This is what it’s like for someone with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

BDD is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about how they look. They might think they have a big defect in their appearance, even if others say it’s minor or not there at all. This can make them feel very upset and can interfere with their life in big ways.


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How Do You Know If Someone Has BDD?
  • The person can’t stop thinking about a flaw in their look, which might be small or not real.
  • This worry is making their life hard, like causing problems at school or with friends.
  • They might do things over and over, like checking the mirror or trying to hide the flaw.
  • They’re not just worried about their weight or shape, like in eating disorders.

Sometimes, people with BDD really focus on their muscles and think they’re not big enough. And how much they believe in these worries can vary.

Who Gets BDD and When?

BDD often starts when a person is a teenager, around 16 years old. Girls and women get it a bit more often than boys and men. Boys and men with BDD might worry about things like their muscles or hair, while girls and women might be more concerned about their skin or weight.

It can take a long time, sometimes over 10 years, before someone with BDD gets the right help. Many people with BDD also think about or try to change how they look with cosmetic treatments, like surgery, but this doesn’t usually help in the long run.

What Causes BDD?

BDD can happen for a few reasons. It might be because of the person’s genes, their brain, or things that happen in their life. For example, if someone is teased a lot about how they look, it might make them more likely to get BDD.

Other Health Problems with BDD

People with BDD often have other tough challenges, like feeling really sad, worrying a lot, or having trouble with eating. They might also try to hurt themselves or think about suicide.

How Do You Help Someone with BDD?
Talking and Learning

One of the best ways to help is through something called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps people change how they think and what they do about their worries. There are books and websites that can teach more about BDD:

Talking and Learning

One of the best ways to help is through something called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps people change how they think and what they do about their worries. There are books and websites that can teach more about BDD:


Doctors might also give medicine, usually the same kind used for worries and sadness, to help calm the person’s mind.

Getting the Right Help

It’s important for people with BDD to talk to a doctor who understands mental health. Sometimes they might go to a skin doctor or a surgeon first, but it’s really a psychiatrist they need to see.

What Happens Over Time?

With the right help, many people with BDD start to feel better. But it can take a while to find that help, and the worries about how they look can come and go. If someone has BDD for a long time or it starts when they’re young, it can be harder to get better.

Things to Watch Out For

People with BDD might keep trying to fix their look with surgery, which usually doesn’t help. They might also have a hard time making friends and could think about hurting themselves.

Remember, BDD is a real condition, and with the right help, people can start to feel better about themselves and lead happy lives.

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