Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is often referred to as “imagined ugliness.” It is a condition in which a person feels highly distressed regarding an imagined flaw on their body. If there is a slight abnormality, the level of distress is above and beyond what would be expected for a minor physical flaw. BDD affects people’s lives significantly. The imagined physical flaw seems so horrible that people often withdraw from everyday activities due to embarrassment or shame. Those suffering from BDD typically try to repair the imagined flaw through plastic surgery or some other means. BDD causes people to believe that once the flaw is fixed, the distress will go away, but it doesn’t.
Typical BDD behaviors range from completely avoiding mirrors to constantly checking one’s reflection. People with BDD might also excessively apply makeup, comb their hair, pick at their skin, or perform other ritualized grooming behaviors. Many people with BDD find that their preoccupation with the supposed flaw is absolutely exhausting due to the emotional pain it causes. If the above description sounds familiar because you or someone you know might have BDD, it is important to seek professional help. Therapy to address the psychological issues related to BDD is recommended. Treatment should be aimed at reducing anxiety regarding the flaw and helping people to engage more fully in life.