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A to Z: Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

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Body dysmorphic (dis-MOR-fik) disorder is a psychological condition that causes people to be constantly preoccupied with imagined, perceived, or otherwise trivial defects or flaws in their appearance.

More to Know

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a condition that involves obsessions, which are distressing thoughts that repeatedly intrude into a person’s awareness. With BDD, the distressing thoughts are about appearance flaws. For example, people with BDD may worry that their hair is thin, their face is scarred, their eyes aren’t exactly the same size, their nose is too big, or their lips are too thin. BDD also involves compulsions, which are things a person does to try to relieve the tension caused by the obsessive thoughts.

The pattern of obsessions and compulsions can disrupt daily life. Someone with BDD may avoid going to school, quit a job, or just stay home all the time. BDD can lead to social isolation, depression, and, in severe cases, suicidal thoughts. BDD can be treated by an experienced mental health professional.

Usually, treatment involves a type of therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and helps to correct the pattern behind the body image distortion and distress. Sometimes a doctor may prescribe an antidepressant medication.

Keep in Mind

With help and time, relief from BDD is possible. An experienced psychologist or psychiatrist who is knowledgeable about BDD can help break the disorder’s grip and enable someone living with the disorder to lead a full and productive life.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.