What is body dysmorphic disorder?

When someone continually struggles with negative body image and hates the way they look to the point that it leads to poor mental health, they are likely to have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). While we can all be unhappy with how we look, these feelings normally come and go. For someone with BDD, they feel like this all the time. This can affect their daily life and lead to problems with relationships and work.

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Signs of BDD

Mental health charity Mind describes BDD as an anxiety disorder relating to body image. It is related to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Symptoms include obsessive worrying about what the person perceives is wrong with their physical appearance, which can lead to the development of repetitive behaviours. The person may continually check their body in the mirror and wish they looked different. This may lead to other problems, including eating disorders, drug or alcohol misuse, and self-harm.


There are a number of self-care options that can help, including reducing stress, focusing on what your body can do, and setting boundaries around talking about your body; however, it may be that the patient requires professional help to be able to cope with their BDD.

Mental health training courses, including BDD courses, are available from specialist healthcare training providers such as https://www.tidaltraining.co.uk/mental-health-training-courses/. These focus on awareness and techniques to alleviate symptoms and work towards recovery.

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Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often used to treat BDD, focusing on fighting negative thought patterns. A therapist may also prescribe medication to alleviate the anxiety or depression that can be caused by BDD.

There are also organisations such as the Body Dysmorphic Foundation and OCD Action that can offer advice; in addition, self-help programmes are available on the NHS and local support groups are available.

Eliana Brown

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