Body Dismorphic Disorder

Julia Placido

The Disease

Body dimorphic disorder, also known as BDD, is a psychological disorder when a person becomes obsessed with imaginary defects in their appearance. The cause of BDD is unknown, but doctors link it to brain differences, genes, and/or environment. Some symptoms or characteristics of BDD are increase in use of makeup, hats, change in body position, comparison to others, seeking surgery, checking/avoiding mirrors, skin picking, excessive grooming, excessive exercise, and changing clothes multiple times a day.


There are very few ways to treat BDD, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, antidepressants, or, some people believe in spiritual healing and that it can help with this disease.

Emma's Story

This article is about a girl named Emma who suffers from BDD. She tells you about her childhood and her emotions with the disease. She talks about how she wore a lot of makeup to hide her face and she wore her hair a certain way. She learned about BDD through a magazine article and seeked help by a professional after reading about it. For treatment, she started taking medication and received counseling.

Dear Julia

Does plastic surgery normally help people who suffer from BDD feel better about their appearance?

It does and does not. After a BDD sufferer undergoes a successful plastic surgery on one place on the body, they tend to start focusing on other places on the body. If the surgery is unsuccessful, the symptoms of BDD may worsen. These surgeries are rarely successful. Any psychological disease can and should not be treated by surgery.

Can you tell if someone has BDD by just looking at them?

No, you can't. People who suffer from BDD normally do not want to be noticed and try to avoid standing out. Although, sometimes the way a sufferer chooses to hide it can be an indication of something being wrong with them. For example, someone wearing an excessive amount if makeup or excessively working out could be a sign of BDD.