Body Dysmorphic Disorder

  • Sufferers are excessively concerned about appearance, in particular perceived flaws of face, hair, and skin. They are convinced these flaws exist in spite of reassurances from friends and family members who usually can see nothing to justify such intense worry and anxiety.
  • The person with an eating disorder says, “I am so fat.” The person with BDD says, “I am so ugly.”
  • BDD is thought to be a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is not a variant of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
  • BDD often includes social phobias. Sufferers are shy and withdrawn in new situations and with unfamiliar people.
  • BDD affects about two percent of the people in the United States. It strikes males and females equally. Seventy percent of cases appear before age eighteen.
  • BDD sufferers are at elevated risk for despair and suicide. In some cases they undergo multiple, unnecessary plastic surgeries.
  • BDD is treatable and begins with an evaluation by a physician and mental health care provider. Treatments thus far found to be effective include medication (especially meds that adjust serotonin levels in the brain) and cognitive-behavioral therapy. A clinician makes the diagnosis and recommends treatment based on the needs and circumstances of each person.