What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder? How can you help someone suffering from the condition?

Adhya Moona
Adhya MoonaMar 06, 2023 | 12:51

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder? How can you help someone suffering from the condition?

Those who suffer from BDD hate their body and focus on the "flaws" in their physical appearance. Photo: Seemon Kushwaha

Have you ever been too critical about how you look? Or do you know of someone who is always finding flaws about their body or face, obsessing about their self-perceived "imperfections" in their appearance? The individual could be suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). BDD is something more than just being over-critical about one's body, it could be self-harming and have a negative impact on the individual's life.


What is it?

  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder, also known as body dysmorphia, is a mental health and psychological condition where an individual spends a great amount of time focusing and worrying about the flaws or imperfections in their appearance, feeling uncomfortable in their own skin.
  • The flaws and imperfections that one might see in themselves could be unnoticeable to others. BDD is more prevalent in teenagers and young adults and affects both women and men.

Symptoms of BDD

Some of the most common symptoms of body dysmorphia are:

  • Spending a considerable amount of time in front of the mirror inspecting every little detail about your appearance or completely avoiding looking at the mirror or any reflective surface because you feel distressed when they look at themselves.
  • Spending time worrying about appearance or feeling insecure about a specific part of the body or face.
  • Have a habit of constantly comparing your looks with others
  • Putting in effort to conceal or fix your ‘flaws’ or ‘imperfections’, for instance, applying make-up, wearing certain kind of clothes, combing hair for long durations
  • Have a habit of plucking or pulling hair or picking at skin.
  • Experiencing panic attacks, anxiety and self-loathing thoughts because you feel shame and disgust towards your appearance
  • Feeling fearful that others are staring or judging the things that you might not like or consider as a ‘flaw’ about yourself
  • Using words like “ugly”, “deformed”, “unattractive”, “awful”, “disfigured”, “weird” to describe oneself

How to treat it?

  • It is important to seek professional help if you suffer from BDD. Going to a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist can help.
  • Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is also being used to treat BDD.
  • Being put on medications such as antidepressants is a common part of the treatment.

"The treatment for BDD varies in terms of the severity of the disorder. What tends to happen is it can range from talk therapy, which includes CBT and behavioral therapeutic style and in some cases you even use medication," Ms Shreya Kaul, a Counselling Psychologist, told dailyO.

Self-harm risk

She said that we do need to be aware that the chances of self harm and suicidal ideation or suicide could be very high with these cases because there is an absolute lack of self-worth and self esteem as you are always beating down upon yourself.

No clear high-risk groups

Shreya Kaul said that BDD is one of those disorders which when talked strictly in binary of male and female, is pretty evened out. "Some researches show thar men are in the high-risk group while show more women are more prone to BDD. It’s quite possible that females are more vocal about it," she said.


As far as age goes, BDD can come as early on as in your teens. "Most of the time it is from your teenage, but there are certain sets of population that do start exhibiting or have an onset of BDD when they are 18 or older" Ms Kaul said.

A tragedy

  • Charlotte Comer, a 30-year-old assistant physiotherapist hailing from Worcestershire struggled with BDD and anorexia, she saw herself as a “monster” and took her life in July 2021 when she overdosed on drugs.
  • Charlotte was battling mental anguish and was upset with her appearance since childhood after she was continuously bullied in school.
  • She was always anxious and worried about how she looked and how others would perceive her physical appearance; she became obsessed with her looks and her BDD eventually led her to become anorexic and causing self-harm.

Celebrities with Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Celebrities such as Lili Reinhart, Billie Eilish, Reid Ewing, Robert Pattinson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Miley Cyrus, Brittany Snow & more have openly spoken about their struggles with body dysmorphia. These celebrities have acknowledged and shared their stories of BDD related sufferings along with the anxiety, eating disorders and the plastic surgery that accompanied it.

Indian actress, Illeana D’Cruz has openly spoken about suffering from body dysmorphia.


If you know of someone who is struggling with body dysmorphia or is showing symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder, help those individuals by getting them or encouraging them to seek the required professional help to treat the problem. 

Last updated: March 06, 2023 | 12:52
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