Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Naimeria Berry

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is an obsessive compulsive disorder in which a person constantly focuses and thinks about a minor or invisible flaw. BDD can also affect their daily life and routines.


BDD was first discovered by Italian physician Enrico Morselli in 1891. Along with Morselli, Pierre Janet described a woman who stayed inside her home for 5 years, with little interaction to the social world. Sigmund Freud also mentioned BDD, in one of the famous cases, "The Wolf Man." This case involved a wealthy aristocrat who avoided social life and work because of his constant occupation with his nose. The man had a dream of white wolves behind branches staring at him through the window. The dream was interpreted that he wanted to be transformed into a woman.

BDD was soon added into the DSM in 1987, and grouped into the category: Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum in 2013.

Eating and Body Dysmorphic Disorders: Crash Course Psychology #33

Who does it affect?

  • BDD can affect both men and women, and can be found in more teenage boys and girls.
  • BDD affects 1 out of every 100 people.
  • The suicide rate for BDD is 45% higher than the average population.
  • BDD has been commonly reported in the ages 12-18, but is not usually treated until years later.

According to the DSM-IV-TR #300, in order to have the diagnosis of BDD, the patients concern with their physical appearance is very "excessive." The concerns must cause a wide amount of stress to them, and the most important aspects on functioning properly. The occupations can not have been classified in any other diagnosed disorders such as bulimia and anorexia.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Constant preoccupation with physical appearance
  • Extreme self consciousness
  • Avoiding Mirrors
  • Examining themselves in a mirror constantly or excessively
  • Strongly believing that a minor or invisible makes them less appealing
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Feeling the need to always stay home
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Picking at the face/skin
  • Excessive exercising
  • Avoiding having their picture taken
  • Using cosmetics but seeing no positive change in how they look
  • Worrying about different parts of their body
  • Constantly changing clothes
  • BDD will also affect the daily routines and how the patient may function everyday.


  • Relatives that have BDD can cause it to appear in other relatives
  • Childhood teasing
  • Low-Self Esteem
  • Pressure in society
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Physical/Sexual abuse
  • Image expectations


  • Unnecessary medical surgeries
  • Lacking close relationships
  • Isolation from the outside world
  • Being hospitalized multiple times
  • Substance abuse
  • Thoughts of suicide


  • Cognitive therapy
  • Antidepressents