An insight into Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Syeda Arifa Tasneem, Integrative Therapist at Seraniti shares here views on Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Many a times we dislike a few things about our body and appearance. Either you have a complexion that is not satisfactory, or you have a blunt nose, or your eyes are too large or too small for your face, or you feel insecure about your height. Although we try to hide our imperfections to some extent, our insecurities about our appearances don’t really interfere in our daily lives. Butpeople with Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD ponder over their flaws for hours together each day.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental illness characterized by an obsessive focus on an imagined flaw in appearance and warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix it. In reality the perceived defect might just be a slight imperfection or might even be non-existent. It is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to have a distorted view of how they look and to spend a lot of time worrying about their looks.

Here are seven red flags as given by Tasneem, an Integrated Psychotherapist at, that you or your partner might be suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder:

1. You feel insecure about your looks and can’t control your negative thoughts and find it hard to believe people who say you are good enough.

2. Your negative thoughts about yourself cause severe emotional distress and interfere with your daily functioning.

3. You tend to avoid social gatherings and even bunk your school/college/work and isolate yourself from family and friends with the fear that someone might spot your flaws.

4. You have either aimed or thought of getting a plastic surgery done to correct your perceived imperfections. Or, you have actually undergone a plastic surgery and are still unsatisfied with the results.

5. You constantly try to camouflage your flaws with your clothes, makeup, shades, hats and the like.

6. You frequently check yourself in the mirror, or avoid mirrors completely because you cannot stand your perceived flaw.

7. You spend hours together worrying about your flaws and compare yourself to other’s appearances and suffer from a low self-esteem because you seek reassurance from others about your looks being perfect, yet fail to believe them.

However, one can learn to recognise irrational thoughts and change negative thinking patterns through a combination of medication and Psychotherapy. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can teach you ways to identify unhealthy ways of thinking and behaving and replace them with positive ones. Medication can also help relieve the obsessive and compulsive symptoms of the disorder.