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What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

by Revathi Raghavan


a mental disorder characterized by the obsessive idea that some aspect of one's own body part or appearance is severely flawed and therefore warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix it.”

The most important thing with regard to this is understanding that the disorder goes beyond having insecurities. It goes beyond bad hair days and multiple outfit changes.

Body dysmorphia can be crippling if not caught in its early stages.

To start off, BDD is a disorder that affects both men and women equally. It is categorized by its ability to make one perceive themselves as too “ugly” or “hideous” to face life the way someone without the disorder might. BDD does not refer to one flaw and isn’t just about weight or fat percentage - it refers to a vast array of insecurities stemming from over self-analysis that is further explained through the course of this article.

Eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and anxiety disorders are all associated with BDD and can amplify the effects of it. Fearing the stigma that generally surrounds appearance-related disorders, this condition has been under-diagnosed. However, it needs to be understood because it can lead to educational and occupational isolation which can further lead to social isolation.


  • BDD is a body-image disorder characterized by being a persistent associate in nursing intrusive preoccupations with an imaginary or slight defect in one's look. Such as body hair, weight, pimples, etc.

  • For someone with BDD, the flaw is critical and outstanding, usually inflicting severe emotional distress and difficulties in daily functioning.

  • The causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder remain to a large extent unclear, however, they have been attributed to biological, environmental, and genetic factors. For example, the awry of monoamine neurotransmitters within the brain, temperament traits, and life experiences (e.g. abuse, sexual trauma, peer-abuse).


  • Frequent thoughts concerning outward appearance (for at least an hour a day).

  • Spending the majority of one's time staring at a mirror and/or reflective surface while fixated on the perceived flaw, or in some cases, completely turning away from mirrors/reflective surfaces.

  • Covering up the dislikable body parts (for example, using hats, scarves, make-up, body position, or posture).

  • Repeatedly asking others if one looks okay (also mentioned as ‘reassurance seeking’).

  • Frequent appointments with medical professionals/cosmetic surgeons to induce the dislikable body parts or aspects to be “fixed.”

  • Repeated cosmetic surgery or medical treatment.

  • Use of fingernails and tweezers to get rid of perceived blemishes and/or hair.

  • Avoiding social engagement such as in public places, work, school, etc.

  • Leaving the house less or solely going out at dark hours to prevent others from seeing the “flaw.”

  • Keeping one’s obsessions and compulsions secret because of feelings of shame

  • Emotional issues like feelings of disgust, depression, anxiety, shallowness, self-destructive thinking, etc.

To conclude there is no known method to prevent BDD as such.

However, it'd be helpful to start treatment in people as soon as they start to own symptoms and not succumb to the pressures of taboo and stigmatization.

Furthermore, teaching and inspiring healthy and realistic attitudes about body image and appearance also might help prevent the escalation or the worsening of BDD.

Last but not least it is important to provide every person with an understanding and supportive environment that might help decrease the severity of the symptoms and help him or her better deal with this malicious disorder.

1 comment

1 Comment

vivika puranik
vivika puranik
Jun 30, 2020

very Informative and super well written! 😁👍keep it up

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