Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a type of anxiety disorder. People who suffer from BDD dislike something about the way they look and think about it all the time. Most get to the point where it is very hard to go outside or even talk to others without thinking about their body's flaws. For example, they may worry all the time that their skin is too pale, their chest is too small, or their nose is too long. These thoughts about a seeming flaw are distorted. Often the supposed flaw doesn't even exist, or is a minor defect that others do not notice.
BDD is different from eating disorders. People with this disorder may not be concerned about weight or body size. Instead, they feel that they have extremely ugly flaws of the face, hair, skin, or some other body part.
BDD may result from a chemical imbalance in the brain. Someone whose family has a history of obsessive-compulsive, depressive, or anxiety disorders is more likely to develop BDD. Families with very high expectations may be at higher risk for BDD.
BDD affects mostly teenagers and young adults. It may start gradually or suddenly. Often the person is a perfectionist.
People who have this disorder may also have:
Teens may have this disorder if they:
People with BDD may also be anxious, depressed, or even suicidal because of always focusing on their seeming flaw.
A mental health therapist can tell if your teen has BDD. The therapist will ask about the teen's symptoms and behavior, medical and family history, and any medicines the teen is taking. Your teen may also need some lab tests to rule out possible medical problems.
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing the irrational beliefs and distorted thoughts that contribute to the disorder. The goal is to help teens recognize the illogical nature of their thoughts and change them. The therapist also helps the person with BDD resist compulsive behaviors, such as mirror checking. Other types of therapy do not appear to be very effective in the treatment of BDD.
If a person has severe symptoms, starting both cognitive behavioral therapy and medicine may be best. The medicines prescribed for BDD include SSRI antidepressants. These medicines can help the teen feel less anxious, depressed, and preoccupied with his or her seeming flaws. Medicines can help the teen control his or her thoughts and improve functioning.