What is "Body Dysmorphic Disorder" (BDD)?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) refers to an excessive preoccupation with a perceived defect or flaw in one’s physical appearance which is absent or appears only slight to others.

Typical areas of concerns include the face or the head area (e.g. skin blemishes, scars, asymmetries, shape/size of the nose or teeth, thinning hair, wrinkles). Some individuals worry about their own body build as being insufficiently muscular, which is known as a subtype of BDD called “muscle dysmorphia”. However, all body parts may be the focus of concern. 

Studies indicate that about 2% of the general population suffer from BDD. Further, the syndrome appears to be equally frequent in men and women and occurs in all cultural backgrounds. BDD often starts in young adulthood and usually takes a chronic course, if left untreated.

Typically, individuals with BDD fear to disclose their appearance concerns to others because they are ashamed or afraid to be considered superficial or vain.

Symptoms and impairments associated with BDD

BDD is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Performing rituals (e.g. makeup, hair combing, plucking/pressing the skin, muscle training, checking body regions in the mirror or avoiding to see body regions, reassurance with others, covering up body regions through clothes/hats etc.), often up to several hours a day.
  • Repetitive thinking about affected body regions, often up to several hours a day. Typically, these thoughts are perceived as distressing and uncontrollable.
  • Distress and severe functional impairment in everyday life related to these concerns. Many sufferers report symptoms of depression or intense anxiety as well as social withdrawal. Suicidal thoughts or tendencies may occur as a result of these symptoms.

If left untreated, BDD symptoms typically do not remit. In fact, they tend to become more burdensome and potentially disabling over time. As a result, most sufferers require specialized help at some point in the course of the disorder.

If you are exhibiting one or more of the symptoms listed above and/or feel distressed because of excessive appearance concerns, we encourage you to contact us or any other specialized treatment provider.

Our trained staff will be glad to provide you with the necessary information about our treatment approach and discuss therapeutic options with you.