Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others.Your perceived flaw and the repetitive behaviors cause you significant distress, and impact your ability to function in your daily life.

You may seek out numerous cosmetic procedures to try to "fix" your perceived flaw. Afterward, you may feel temporary satisfaction or a reduction in your distress, but often the anxiety returns and you may resume searching for other ways to fix your perceived flaw.

People of any age can have BDD, but it's most common in teenagers and young adults. It affects both men and women. Based on preliminary studies in Singapore, prevalence of BDD in Singapore is around 2% in the adult population.

Having BDD does not mean you're vain or self-obsessed. It can be very upsetting and have a big impact on your life.

Symptoms of BDD

You might have BDD if you: - worry a lot about a specific area of your body (particularly your face) - spend a lot of time comparing your looks with other people's - look at yourself in mirrors a lot or avoid mirrors altogether - go to a lot of effort to conceal flaws; for example, by spending a long time combing your hair, applying make-up or choosing clothes - pick at your skin to make it "smooth"

BDD can seriously affect your daily life, including your work, social life and relationships. BDD can also lead to depression, self-harm and even thoughts of suicide.

What causes body dysmorphic disorder?

The cause of BDD is thought to be a combination of environmental, psychological, and biological factors. Bullying or teasing may create or foster the feelings of inadequacy, shame, and fear of ridicule.

Getting help for BDD

You should see a medical or mental health professional if you think you might have BDD.

They'll probably ask a number of questions about your symptoms and how they affect your life.

They may also ask if you've had any thoughts about harming yourself.

It can be very difficult to seek help for BDD, but it's important to remember that you have nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about.

Getting help is important because your symptoms probably will not go away without treatment and may get worse.

Treatments for BDD

The symptoms of BDD can get better with treatment.

If your symptoms are relatively mild, you should be referred for a type of talking therapy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which you have either on your own or in a group.

If you have moderate symptoms, you should be offered either CBT or a type of antidepressant medicine called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).