BDD refers to a condition where an individual is preoccupied with the appearance of either a certain aspect of, or the the whole of their appearance, for example a scar or a facial feature that they feel is abnormal or deformed, or just generally a strong dissatisfaction with their body shape. This then leads to low mood, severe anxiety and a real change in function.
Symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include:
- Preoccupation with specific aspect of appearance and feeling extremely self-conscious
- Frequently looking in the mirror or completely avoiding mirrors
- Strong beliefs of appearing ugly due to perceived abnormalities
- Avoidance of social situations
- Fear of leaving the house
- The need for constant reassurance from others about appearance
- Frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction
- Excessive grooming or excessive exercise
- The need to grow facial hair or wear excessive make up or clothing to cover perceived flaws
- Constant comparison to the appearance of others
- Reluctance to appear in pictures
- Picking at skin or hair
Having BDD does not mean the person is vain, and thoughts go beyond just feeling unhappy or self conscious about their appearance. BDD is part of the “obsessive compulsive disorder” family of disorders, as thoughts can be obsessional in nature and therefore very difficult to switch off.
Extensive research has shown that BDD is actually very treatable using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.