Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body Dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition where an individual spends a large amount of time worrying about a perceived flaw in their appearance which is often unnoticeable or seen as minor by others. The individual usually spends at least an hour a day (collectively) pre-occupied by this flaw which causes distress. The person can experience intrusive thoughts and engage in repetitive checking behaviours to ease the distress they suffer. Behaviours may include: looking at themselves in reflective surfaces, trying to camouflage, alter or minimise their perceived flaw or avoiding situations which may trigger feelings of anxiety (e.g. social situations where they feel they may be seen and judged by others). BDD is also associated with feelings of shame for the individual and understandably can be very distressing to talk about with others for fear of appearing vain or self-obsessed.
Actions that can help
- Try and identify what can trigger your symptoms. Awareness of early warning signs can help you better manage your symptoms.
- Be more active. Physical activity and exercise can help to ease some of the common symptoms of BDD such as low mood and feeling anxious.
- Seek help. It can be difficult to seek help for BDD as some people worry about being judged or that they won’t be taken seriously but instead be viewed as self-obsessed. The sooner you reach out for support the sooner you can start to feel better.
- Look after yourself. By being mindful of your diet and sleep and engaging in regular exercise, you can help to improve your overall mental wellbeing which can build resilience and resources.
- Use self-help. There are many resources that you can access to help manage BDD such as online courses and books based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) principles. Some people find attending support groups helpful. Check out the BDD Foundation, OCD-UK and OCD Action websites for information on support groups and self-help materials.