Dealing with Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder is a condition where the person is extremely preoccupied with perceived imperfections in the body that are in reality not there. It occurs accompanied by an extreme fear of being judged by others that is often recurrent, causes extreme distress, and prevents the person from functioning normally. In some cases, the thought that they do not look as good as they want to be or that a defect can generate unwanted stares from strangers when they go out causes them to stay indoors for a long period of time.

BDD may drive most sufferers to wear excessive make up or wear baggy clothes when going outside in order to hide the perceived defect. Kids and teenagers who suffer from this disorder may want to skip school in order to avoid the anxiety. Some may even result to going under the knife in order to get rid of unwanted thoughts about their appearance.

This type of disorder also typically occurs in persons who also suffer from disorders such as OCD. It has been found out that this disorder also appears more frequently in educated people and those who work in art and design, leading experts to say that an occupation in art and design may be a risk factor for developing BDD. Experts suggest that those who are in the arts may be more aesthetically minded and this can be carried over to how they look at their bodies.

Dealing with Body Dysmorphic Disorder

In order to prevent issues with image and appearance from becoming a full blown disorder, there are certain things parents and family members can do. Raising kids in an environment where there is more emphasis on less superficial things other than appearance can help foster a positive self image. Those who are diagnosed with BDD have a number of options open to them.

These include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Studies have found that Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) has proven effective. In a study of 54 BDD patients who were randomly assigned to Cognitive Behavior Therapy or no treatment, BDD symptoms decreased significantly in those patients undergoing CBT. BDD was eliminated in 82% of cases at post treatment and 77% at follow-up (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology)

Cognitive behavioral therapy may help the person gain insight into the cause of the disorder and help change thinking and behavior patterns.


Psychotherapy is a technique used in Body Dysmorphic Disorder that employs verbal or nonverbal communication with a patient to treat psychiatric, behavioral, personality and emotional disorders


Medication like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants may help in controlling obsessive compulsive behaviors. Hospitalization may be required if the person ends up failing to care for himself or when he becomes a threat to himself.

Insight Psychological Can Help

Family members and friends can help the person deal with recovery by showing that they are there to support him or her. Doing an intervention may be needed if the person does not realize that he or she needs help in dealing with body dysmorphic disorder. This may be the case in cases where a person becomes addicted to surgery as a way to treat perceived imperfections. Too many surgeries can have potentially fatal consequences, even when done one at a time. Family members who are concerned about a person undergoing too many surgeries may consider staging an intervention.

Those who are currently undergoing treatment can help their own recovery by adopting a healthy lifestyle, eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise, and reducing the sources of stress. Avoiding drugs and alcohol is also important when undergoing treatment for BDD.