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Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD):

When Appearance Takes Over

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a disabling condition that until recently has been largely ignored. Having occasional feelings of self-consciousness about your looks is normal. But for people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), these concerns become obsessive and overwhelming.

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?

BDD is a mental health condition where you have a distorted view of your appearance. You may be excessively fixated on a perceived flaw that others don’t see or find minor. This can cause significant distress and interfere with your daily life.


Is BDD related to OCD?

While sometimes confused, BDD is distinct from OCD. In OCD, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) trigger repetitive behaviors (compulsions) aimed at reducing anxiety. In BDD, the focus is on a perceived flaw, and the behaviors may not necessarily reduce anxiety, but rather reinforce the obsession with appearance.


Common BDD Concerns:

  • Skin blemishes (acne, scars, wrinkles)
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Nose size or shape
  • Body shape or size
  • Muscle definition or lack thereof
  • Facial features (eyes, lips, jawline)
  • Genital size or shape


Typical Symptoms of BDD:

  • Frequent mirror checking or avoidance of mirrors altogether
  • Excessive grooming rituals (hair combing, applying makeup)
  • Camouflage clothing to hide perceived flaws
  • Social withdrawal or avoidance due to self-consciousness
  • Repeatedly seeking reassurance about appearance from others
  • Comparing your appearance to others in a negative way
  • Feeling intense shame, anxiety, or depression about your looks
  • Repetitive touching or measuring of perceived flaws


Is There Help for Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

The good news is yes! BDD is highly treatable with the right approach. Therapy, particularly Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can be very effective in treating people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.


Treatment for BDD:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapy helps identify negative thoughts about your appearance and develop coping mechanisms to manage them.
  • Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP): This therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to situations that trigger your BDD worries and practicing resisting compulsive behaviors.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication can help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression often associated with BDD.


Finding Help for BDD:

  • Talk to your doctor: They can screen you for BDD and recommend treatment options.
  • Seek therapy: Look for a therapist experienced in treating BDD and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Consider online therapy options: Some platforms offer therapy for BDD via video conferencing.


The Gateway Institute Can Help:

We offer specialized treatment programs for BDD and other anxiety disorders. Our team of therapists will work with you to develop a personalized plan to address your unique concerns and improve your body image.

Other Common Anxiety Disorders

It is not uncommon for an individual to suffer from multiple anxiety disorders. Treating co-occurring conditions simultaneously is important in finding balance and healing from anxiety.

The Gateway Institute is here to support you in getting the help that you need.