Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder that is characterized by an excessive preoccupation with perceived flaws of one’s physical appearance. It is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors, such as trauma, teasing, or criticism.
BDD is diagnosed based on a person’s symptoms, and a mental health professional may use the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to make a diagnosis. These criteria include preoccupation with perceived flaws in physical appearance, repetitive behaviors such as mirror checking or skin picking, and significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Differential diagnosis for BDD may include other mental disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder, depression, and anorexia nervosa.
Treatment for BDD typically involves a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). CBT can help a person to identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and behaviors, while medications may help to reduce symptoms of distress.
With treatment, the prognosis for BDD is generally good. However, it is important to note that, as with any mental disorder, the symptoms may persist, even with treatment. It is also important to recognize that BDD can be a chronic condition, and relapse is possible.