Everyone’s body, looks, and appearances are different from others and everyone is beautiful in their own ways. However, there are times when we may not like how we look and appear. While most individuals find physical flaws bothersome to some extent, people with body dysmorphic disorder or body dysmorphia, obsess over perceived or actual flaws for hours and take extreme, often drastic, steps to hide them from others.

In this article, we will understand more about this health condition.

Body Dysmorphia

What is Body Dysmorphia?

Body dysmorphia or body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health issue where the person is concerned about the flaws in their appearance. Often, these flaws are not easily seen and may go unnoticed by others. Even though anyone can be a victim of BDD, it is generally seen to be prevalent among teenagers and adults and can affect both men and women.

The critical thing to remember is having this condition does not imply that the person is self-obsessed. Yet, this situation can be upsetting while impacting self-esteem and everyday lifestyle.

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Body Dysmorphia Symptoms

Here are some common symptoms of this mental health condition:

  • Spending time finding or thinking about at least one thing that may be a flaw in your appearance, which others say is not. It can also result in comparing oneself with others.
  • Some people may have the desire to check their appearances from time to time. While others may avoid being pictured or see themselves to feel distressed.
  • Changing your appearance more often.
  • Take selfies or pictures frequently or use apps to modify or filter any picture to hide something.
  • Feeling anxious and thinking that others are looking at you and judging you for your appearance. People often get panic attacks due to such thoughts.
  • They feel ashamed of their body type, especially what they think has flaws.
  • Compulsive grooming behaviours, such as pulling or plucking hair or picking at skin may become harmful.
  • Avoiding instances where people can notice things that they feel have flaws.
  • Repeated cosmetic surgery or other such procedures.
  • Suicidal or self-harm thoughts.

Body Dysmorphia Causes

The primary cause of body dysmorphia is considered to be a mix of psychological, environmental, and biological factors. In addition, it can worsen with bullying or teasing, thus creating a feeling of shame, inadequacy, and fear of ridicule.

Body Dysmorphia Treatment

The treatment of this situation is often decided based on the patient’s condition and diagnosis. However, the common ones include body dysmorphia therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy and medication. Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on some of the following things:

  • This therapy helps in maintaining negative thoughts and emotions.
  • It also helps challenge negative thoughts and teach you good ways of thinking about yourself.
  • Understanding ways to not look at the mirror extensively.

Significant Areas of Concern in Body Dysmorphic Disorder

People with BDD are often concerned about the following areas:

  • Facial skin
  • Face, including size and shape of nose, eyes, lips, and ears
  • Overall body shape and size
  • Size and shape of any body part, including thighs, buttocks, legs, abdomen, genitals, and breasts.
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Types of Body Dysmorphia

BDD can be classified into two kinds:

  • Muscle Dysmorphia – It happens when you feel your body is not big enough or muscular. In this case, you may exercise, eat, wear clothes that make you feel bulky, count calories, or have a strict diet schedule. It is often known as reverse anorexia or bigorexia. It may even overlap with an eating disorder, but it is not the same.
  • Body Dysmorphia by Proxy – This condition makes you look for flaws in other people’s looks. They can be someone you know or a complete stranger. This situation often makes people conduct repetitive behaviour to ease feelings of guilt or anxiety.

Problems Associated with BDD

BDD is not a minor situation and can often lead to trigger more severe conditions. Some of these are:

  • The feeling of guilt, shame, and loneliness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Self-harm
  • Misuse of alcohol
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

If you feel you or anyone you know is suffering from BDD, you should immediately seek medical attention. You should also consult a therapist for body dysmorphic disorder and start with your cognitive behavioural therapy at the earliest.


Initially, it can be difficult for people with BDD to realise and understand that what they are seeing or feeling is not correct. People living with a person with BDD should remember that therapies and medicines take time to show results, and hence, one should be patient with the person. More importantly, the person with body dysmorphic disorder should be motivated to continue with the therapies and not give up easily. Remember to be honest and open with your therapist about how you feel to get better quickly.  



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By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Dr. Aarti Nehra is an MBBS graduate and pursued Masters of Medical Science and Technology from the prestigious IIT Kharagpur. She has worked as a consultant to provide services across the medical device and pharmaceutical industry. A cross-domain expert with experience in clinical practice, clinical marketing, competitive intelligence, content writing, blog writing, Medical reviewing, market strategy & analysis, statistical analysis, healthcare management, and medical research.