Coping with Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Strategies for Living with BDD

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition characterized by an obsessive preoccupation with perceived flaws in one’s appearance. Individuals with BDD may spend hours a day checking their appearance in mirrors, picking at their skin, or seeking reassurance from others about their looks. BDD is often accompanied by anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.

Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Some of the common symptoms of BDD include:

  • Preoccupation with perceived flaws in appearance that are either slight or not noticeable to others
  • Repeatedly checking appearance in mirrors or other reflective surfaces
  • Excessive grooming or skin picking
  • Seeking reassurance from others about one’s appearance
  • Avoiding social situations or leaving the house due to anxiety about appearance
  • Comparing one’s appearance to others
  • Engaging in rituals related to appearance, such as applying makeup or dressing in a particular way


Causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The exact cause of BDD is unknown, but several factors may contribute to its development. These include:

  • Genetics
  • Neurobiological factors
  • Environmental factors, such as childhood experiences or trauma
  • Societal pressures to conform to certain beauty standards


Diagnosis of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

BDD can be difficult to diagnose, as individuals with the condition often feel ashamed or embarrassed about their concerns. A mental health professional can evaluate an individual’s symptoms and make a diagnosis based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria.

Treatment options for Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Several treatment options are available for individuals with BDD, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that helps individuals with BDD identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs about their appearance. CBT can also help individuals develop healthy coping skills to manage their anxiety and improve their self-esteem.

  • Medication

Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may be prescribed to individuals with BDD. These medications can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety and may also help reduce obsessive thoughts about appearance.

  • Other therapies

Other types of therapy, such as exposure and response prevention (ERP) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), may also be used to treat BDD.

  1. Coping with Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Coping with BDD can be challenging, but there are strategies that can help. Some tips for living with BDD include:

  • Developing healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, meditation, or creative expression
  • Avoiding triggers that may worsen symptoms, such as social media or certain environments
  • Seeking support from a mental health professional, friends, or family members
  • Practicing self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in activities that bring joy


How to support someone with Body Dysmorphic Disorder

If someone you know is struggling with BDD, it’s important to provide support and encouragement. Some tips for supporting a loved one with BDD include:

  • Encouraging them to seek professional help
  • Listening without judgment and being empathetic to their struggles
  • Helping them challenge negative self-talk and beliefs
  • Avoiding comments or behaviors that may reinforce negative body image
  • Encouraging them to engage in self-care activities


In conclusion, body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health condition that can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. It’s important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with BDD. With the right treatment and support, it’s possible to manage symptoms and improve self-esteem and overall well-being.

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