Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

Body dysmorphic disorder, also known as body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person obsesses over perceived flaws in their appearance, which appear minor or are not noticed at all by others.

Body dysmorphia can affect people of any age and gender, although it mainly affects teenagers or young adults.

If you think that you might be displaying some of the signs of body dysmorphia, it's important to seek help. Book an appointment with our team of world-leading experts to start your journey to recovery.

What is body dysmorphia?

Body dysmorphic disorder does not imply that you are vain or self-obsessed. It has the potential to be extremely distressing and have a significant impact on your life

Body dysmorphic disorder can affect people of any age; however, it is most frequent in teenagers and young adults. It can affect people of any gender.

You might try a variety of cosmetic procedures to 'correct' your perceived defect. You may feel momentary relief or a lessening in your distress thereafter, but the anxiety usually returns, and you may begin looking for alternative ways to correct your perceived flaw.

If you believe that you might have body dysmorphia, it's important that you seek help. As experts with 35 years' experience treating various mental health conditions, we're here to help.

Start your treatment journey today. For fast access to specialised private mental health treatment in London at Schoen Clinic Chelsea, you can use your health insurance or simply fund your own treatment. Call our caring team direct on +44 20 4571 6312 or email us today.

What are the main types of body dysmorphia?

Although body dysmorphia treatment is largely the same no matter the type of body dysmorphia, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders there are four distinct types:

  • Muscle dysmorphia or 'bigorexia' − almost exclusively affects men. If you have muscle dysmorphia, you are preoccupied with the idea that your body is too small or not muscular enough. People with muscle dysmorphia might use steroids or have surgery to achieve their desired look. Bigorexia is often associated with anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
  • Skin-picking disorder − Also known as excoriation disorder. If you have a skin-picking disorder, you may pick at your skin, leading to lesions and scarring. This is normally due to a worry about blemishes or flaws in your skin.
  • Hair-pulling disorder − This subtype of BDD involves compulsively pulling our hair. This often leads to baldness or hair thinning. This is normally due to anxiety around the colour, texture or style of your hair.
  • Nail-biting disorder − Although many people bite their nails from time to time, those with nail-biting disorder do so compulsively. This can lead to damaged teeth and nails − as well as social isolation and embarrassment.

What are the main causes of body dysmorphia in the UK?

We cannot say for certain what has caused your body dysmorphia. However, it is believed that several risk factors may contribute to the development of BDD. These include:

  • A history of mental illness in the family − if a family member has anxiety, depression or OCD, you might be more likely to develop BDD.
  • Past trauma − if you've been teased, bullied or faced criticism about your appearance, you might develop BDD.
  • Outside pressure − it's believed that excessive consumption of media can put you at risk of developing BDD due to the societal pressure to look a certain way.
  • Low self-esteem − many people with BDD suffer from low self-esteem. Often, people with BDD us their physical flaws as evidence of their failures.

How do I know if I have body dysmorphia?

If any of the following body dysmorphia symptoms apply to you, you may have body dysmorphic disorder:

  • You are extremely preoccupied with a specific area of your body (particularly on your face) that others don't notice or think is trivial.
  • You have a strong conviction that your perceived physical flaw makes you look ugly or deformed.
  • You believe that others make nasty comments or mock you because of your appearance.
  • You spend a lot of time comparing your appearance to other people's appearances.
  • You look in mirrors a lot or avoid mirrors completely.
  • You try to fix or hide defects. For example, you might comb your hair, apply makeup or choose certain clothes.
  • You may pick at your skin to make it "smooth".
  • You tend to be a perfectionist.
  • You frequently seek assurance from others about your appearance.

Preoccupation with your looks, as well as obsessive thoughts and repetitive actions, can be unwelcome, difficult to manage and time-consuming. As such, BDD can cause you significant stress and/or problems in your social life, work life, education or within personal relationships. If you're showing signs of body dysmorphia, you are at risk of developing depression, self-harm and even thoughts of suicide.

Which body part do most people with BDD obsess over?

You can be preoccupied with obsessing over one or more parts of your body. The bodily feature on which you place your focus may shift throughout time. The following are the most prevalent characteristics over which people obsess:

  • Nose, complexion, wrinkles, acne and other imperfections on the face
  • Hair issues such as thinning, baldness and appearance
  • Skin and veins
  • Breast size
  • Muscle size and tone
  • Genitalia

Body dysmorphic disorder is viewed in a variety of ways. You may understand that your ideas about your perceived shortcomings are exaggerated or untrue, you may believe that they are probably accurate, or you may be certain that they are true.

The more certain that you are in your views, the more hardship and disturbance that you may encounter in your life.

Start your treatment journey today. For fast access to specialised private mental health treatment in London at Schoen Clinic Chelsea, you can use your health insurance or simply fund your own treatment. Call our caring team direct on +44 20 4571 6312 or email us today.

Who is vulnerable to developing body dysmorphia in the UK?

Body dysmorphic disorder affects people of any gender and often begins in early adolescence.

The following factors appear to raise the chance of developing or triggering body dysmorphic disorder:

  • Having body dysmorphic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder in your family
  • Negative life experiences such as childhood taunting, neglect or abuse
  • Personality traits such as perfectionism
  • Social pressure or beauty standards
  • Having a mental condition such as anxiety or depression.

If you think that you or a loved one are developing BDD, get in touch with or compassionate team by on +44 20 4571 9704 or email us. Our team of experts are here to help you to feel like you again.

What is the body dysmorphia test in the UK?

Our mental health experts will be able to diagnose whether you have BDD by asking questions about your thoughts, feelings and symptoms − and how they affect your life.

To be diagnosed with BDD, you must:

  • Be unusually concerned about a small or non-existent body flaw
  • Have thoughts about your body that are severe enough to interfere with your ability to live normally
  • Have other mental health conditions ruled out

What are some of the complications with BDD?

Body dysmorphic disorder can cause or be linked to a variety of complications, such as:

  • Low self-confidence
  • Isolation from others
  • Other mood disorders, such as major depression
  • Suicidal ideas or actions
  • Anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety disorder, are common
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Substance abuse
  • Skin picking, for example, can cause health problems
  • Physical discomfort or the danger of disfigurement as a result of recurrent surgical procedures

When should I seek treatment for body dysmorphia?

Body dysmorphic disorder can be difficult to treat because of shame and humiliation over your looks. However, if you see any indications or symptoms, it is important that you get professional treatment as soon as possible.

Body dysmorphic disorder does not normally improve on its own. If left untreated, it can lead to anxiety, severe depression and even suicidal thoughts.

Why choose Schoen Clinic for body dysmorphia treatment?

If you're experiencing some of the signs of body dysmorphia, it's important to seek expert help. Research shows that early intervention is key when it comes to treating this type of disorder.

Here at Schoen Clinic Chelsea, we're proud to be an award-winning mental health clinic, specialising in treating mental health conditions. We've been helping people like you for over 35 years, so you can be confident that you're in safe hands when you choose us.

As experts in treating mental health conditions, we know that everyone experiences these conditions in different ways. That's why we'll always make your body dysmorphia treatment programme unique to you.

Basing our approach around your needs and symptoms, our team of consultant psychiatrists, nurses, psychotherapists/psychologists, family therapists and occupational therapists will constantly review your programme to ensure that you are given the best possible chance of recovery.

Let us help you to get better again. Get in touch with our team today.

Start your treatment journey today. For fast access to specialised private mental health treatment in London at Schoen Clinic Chelsea, you can use your health insurance or simply fund your own treatment. Call our caring team direct on +44 20 4571 6312 or email us today.

What treatments are there for body dysmorphia?

At Schoen Clinic, we offer a range of evidence-based therapies to help you to feel better again. Our clinical approach means that we treat your BDD with a mix of cognitive behavioural therapy and medications.

Body dysmorphic disorder cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on:

  • Assisting you in understanding how negative ideas, emotional reactions, and behaviours contribute to the persistence of problems over time.
  • Changing your natural negative body image beliefs and developing more flexible ways of thinking.
  • Learning new strategies to deal with cravings or rituals, which can help you to cut down on mirror-checking, reassurance-seeking and overuse of medical services.
  • Other habits, such as addressing social avoidance and increasing participation with healthy supports and activities, can be taught to help you to improve your mental health.

You and your mental health physician can discuss your therapy objectives and create a specific treatment plan to help you to acquire and improve coping skills. Involving family members in treatment, especially for teenagers, may be very beneficial.

Learn about our specialised treatment programme for adults at Schoen Clinic Chelsea.

Can body dysmorphia be treated with medication?

Yes, medications used to treat other mental health illnesses such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder can be useful in treating body dysmorphia.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are medicines that block the reuptake of serotonin (SSRIs). Because difficulties with the brain chemical serotonin may play a role in body dysmorphic disorder, SSRIs may be recommended. SSRIs appear to be more successful than other antidepressants for body dysmorphic disorder. They may help you to regulate your negative thoughts and repeated actions.

However, as very patient is unique, there are other options available. Depending on your symptoms, you may benefit from taking additional drugs in addition to an SSRI.

Recovery is possible

Body dysmorphic disorder is a serious health condition that can have a devastating impact on your health, emotions, daily life and relationships. But we're here to help you to get back to doing the things that you love.

Our multidisciplinary team of experts will work with you to challenge negative thoughts and intrusive feelings and beliefs about yourself. Using the latest therapies and clinically proven medications, we help you to change the way in which you perceive yourself.

Start your body dysmorphia treatment journey at Schoen Clinic Chelsea. Call our caring team on +44 20 4571 6312 or email us for fast access to exceptional private healthcare.

Body dysmorphia frequently asked questions

Body dysmorphia (BDD) FAQs

With treatment, the symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder can improve. Body dysmorphia symptoms are usually treated with a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy and medication.

There is no known way to prevent body dysmorphic disorder. However, because BDD commonly begins in early adolescence, detecting the problem and initiating therapy early may be beneficial.

Long-term maintenance treatment may also help to prevent body dysmorphia symptoms from relapsing.

If you've got body dysmorphia, it's important to seek help. This is because BDD doesn't normally get better on its own. Without the right body dysmorphia treatment plan, you might find that your condition worsens over time.

Yes, it is. Body dysmorphia is a psychiatric disorder that is related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. As such, you must seek help for your body dysmorphia as soon as possible.

Absolutely. If you or a loved one is suffering from BDD, the good news is that treatment for body dysmorphia is often highly successful. Using a combination of medication and therapy, you can often see a dramatic improvement in symptoms.

By challenging negative thoughts and feelings about yourself and the way you look, you can start to find enjoyment in your life once again.
To start your road to recovery, book an appointment with us today.

Our body dysmorphia specialists in London

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Simran (2022) Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Mantra Care. Available at: https://mantracare.org/therapy/for-therapists/diagnostic-and-statistical-manual-of-mental-disorders/ (Accessed: November 9, 2022).