Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a chronic psychological condition where the affected person is constantly unhappy with his looks and is excessively concerned about perceived flaws in his physical features.

Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD):

Symptoms of BDD include:

  • Being obsessed with physical appearance and indulging in comparisons with others.
  • Convinced that they have physical defects that make them look ugly; and also belief that they are being constantly watched and judged by the people around them.
  • Examining one’s self very often in the mirror or completely avoiding mirrors.
  • Over indulgence in cosmetic procedures and excessive grooming, in the hope of correcting their perceived defects.
  • Avoiding public appearances to the extent of social distress like symptoms.
  • All these symptoms lead the affected to experience very low self-esteem, anxiety and stress.

Causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD):

It is difficult to pinpoint the causes of BDD with certainty. However, the factors that are known to increase the risk of developing BDD are:

Imbalances in Brain:

Brain, being a complex organ of sensations and feelings, experiences imbalances in the hundreds of neurotransmitters that it produces. Such imbalances may occur due to congenital reasons or developmental problems.

Genetic Factors:

Obsessive compulsive disorder and social distress syndrome are known precursors to BDD. These mental illnesses are genetic disorders that are usually passed on in a family with known history of such ailments. One of the features or symptoms of these disorders is BDD. 

Environmental Factors:

Negative experiences such as over-exposure to the media from a very young age or victims of teasing and taunting by family and friends can cause a person to develop BDD at a later stage in life.

Treatment Options for BDD:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):  

CBT involves teaching healthy behavior. It aims at making the patient realize his condition and teaches how to use this knowledge for self-help. Self-help and awareness techniques are taught to enable the patient to deal with ritualistic behavior and get out of the vicious cycle.


Serotonin inhibitors (SSRIs) are the group of drugs commonly used to treat people suffering from this ailment. These are anti-depressants that prevent absorption of certain neurotransmitters that lead to obsessive behavior. 

The combination of medication and therapy can help a patient to break the cycle and improve his self esteem and social adaptability. Rehabilitation centers can be considered for severe cases of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.