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Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of their time worrying about flaws in their appearance

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), sometimes known as body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of their time worrying about flaws in their appearance. BDD can also make the individual focus on specific areas of their body and compare themselves to others.

This mental health condition can harm your quality of life, and may lead to other mental health illnesses. Having BDD does not mean you are vain or self-obsessed, it is a mental health condition that cannot be controlled.

Symptoms of body dysmorphia

BDD can present itself in many forms. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Worrying about a specific area of your body
  • Constantly comparing your body and appearance to others
  • Avoid looking at yourself in mirrors and pictures
  • Going to great lengths to conceal how you look
  • Picking at your skin
  • Taking drastic measures to change your appearance

Causes

There is not one definitive cause of BDD. Like all mental health conditions, there are various factors that can lead to someone developing BDD. Some of the most common factors are:

  • You may be more likely to develop BDD if you have a relative who has also experienced it
  • PTSD from a traumatic event. You are more likely to develop BDD if you have trauma associated with your body being criticized.

Impact on mental health

BDD can seriously affect your daily life and can make doing day to day tasks feel impossible. Experiencing prolonged BDD may also lead to other mental health illnesses such as:

Eating disorders – You may try to change your appearance due to your experiences of BDD which can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.

Depression – if you do not want to leave the house or socialise due to BDD you may become isolated and depressed.

Anxiety – constantly worrying about your appearance may develop as an anxiety disorder.

Self-harm – You may try and punish or change your body due to BDD.

I have been diagnosed with BDD;
h
ow do I manage it?

As with any mental health condition, it can be difficult to seek help and start a journey to recovery. Here are some suggestion to help you make those first steps:

Focus on all the positive aspects of you body
Your body keeps you alive and it is your home, it’s important to remember all the amazing things your body is capable of. Focus on one aspect of your body that you like and build from there.

Set boundaries
If people in your life comment on your body, or bodies in general, try to set boundaries by telling them you are not comfortable hearing or partaking in these types of conversations.

Reach out to a loved one
Talking to someone you trust about how you feel is invaluable. Confide in them about your experiences and feelings, and remember they love you and want to help you flourish.

support

If you or anyone you know requires support, our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that fits your needs, including our Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies.

Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at advice@changemh.org or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page.

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