Rothman Center for Pediatric Neuropsychiatry

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a body-image disorder which negatively impacts thoughts and behaviors towards one’s self. Most commonly affecting adolescents, BDD may cause severe emotional distress and interfere with daily functioning. A perceived flaw may be slight or non-existent; however, individuals with BDD think about their real or perceived flaws for hours each day. These negative thoughts are uncontrollable and may cause individuals with BDD to isolate themselves in fear that others will notice their flaws.

What are the causes of this condition?

Although the specific cause of BDD is unknown, one theory suggests BDD may arise from a problem with certain neurotransmitters. Other factors that may trigger the development of BDD include traumatic events during childhood, low self-esteem, and parents or others being critical of the individual’s appearance.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder Symptoms

BDD is associated with distorted self-image; this may lead to harmful behaviors, avoidance of social situations, or attempts to correct perceived flaws through surgery. Repetitive behaviors have been linked to BDD. These behaviors include picking at the skin, trying to cover up the defect, and looking in mirrors. Individuals with BDD may also constantly ask for reassurance that the defect is not visible and measure or touch the perceived defect. Problems at work or school are also common because so much emphasis and time is spent thinking about the flaw. Also, they may often consult with medical specialists on how they can improve his or her appearance.

  • Preoccupation with a slight or imagined flaw in appearance
  • Social impairment
  • Problems in school or occupational settings
  • Obsessive thoughts about the flaw as well as compulsive behaviors
  • Repeated surgeries to attempt to correct the flaw

Body Dysmorphic Disorder Treatment

Rothman Center Clinicians Who Specialize in Body Dysmorphic Disorder


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