What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder? Self-help for BDD

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?

It's when you're not just insecure about certain aspects of your appearance but are spending lots of time obsessing over, hiding, or trying to correct what you see as flaws. It's when you know, objectively others don't view those aspects as abnormal or ugly, but you are unable to escape the stress and anxiety that your body image causes you.

Common features people with BDD focus on


Facial features (e.g. nose)


Skin (e.g. moles, freckles, scars, acne)


Muscle size or tone


Size and shape of genitalia or breasts


Facial and body hair

Difference between BDD and normal insecurities

The difference comes in when your preoccupation with your appearance causes you exceeding amount of distress or interferes with your daily life - this means a bigger problem.
If the drive to improve your body or erase a particular “flaw” dominates your thoughts and actions, despite having received constant reassurance from your family and closed ones that you look fine, you may have BDD.

Signs and symptoms of BDD


Checking your reflection compulsively or staying away from mirrors altogether


Avoiding social events so others will not see the offending body part


Spending lots of energy covering up the perceived flaw


Going to lengths to avoid having your picture taken


Undergoing plastic surgery to correct perceived imperfection


Compulsive skin picking


Comparing yourself negatively to others


Overspending on personal grooming

Relationship between BDD and OCD

Their symptoms overlap in numerous ways (e.g. both usually appear during adolescence and manifest in repetitive behaviours such as skin-picking and constant checking of mirrors). The main difference is that BDD involves an exclusive focus on compulsive behaviours related to appearance, while ODD can have various types of obsessive thoughts and behaviours.
It's also hard for people with BDD to understand and acknowledge their symptoms.

Ways to self-help for BDD


Refocus your attention on the present moment, practise mindfulness and shift focus away from any negative self-talk


Practise self-compassion, learn to accept your imperfections and treat yourself with more kindness


Start a journalling habit, keep track of your BDD symptoms to pinpoint the triggers and control them more effectively


Reduce negative predictions, come up with more realistic outcomes


Seek social support

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