Body Dysmorphic Disorder for Youth

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is defined as a preoccupation with an imagined 'defect' in appearance.

Most people are concerned about their appearance in some way and some take more care of their bodies and appearance than others, particularly during their teenage years. While they may even feel dissatisfied with something they feel is not quite right it doesn't usually interfer with how they go about their daily lives and they do not have distressing thoughts or feel tormented because of their concerns.

However, a preoccupation about minor imperfections, thoughts about these perceived flaws that persistantly intrude into a person's mind and constant checking of their appearance are some of the signs of BDD. Unfortunately, BDD can cause isolation due to these intrusive thoughts, excessive worry and ritualistic behaviours such as checking in mirrors for imperfections, frequently seeking reassurance from others, and even avoiding going out so that others will not see their flaws.

People with BDD tend to have low self-esteem. If their appearance deviates from 'perfection', they can view themselves as worthless or unlovable. They may even drop out of school, stop working, or avoid social activities altogether. Their attention is almost exclusively focused on their 'flaws' and so they become extremely conscious of any minor changes that deviate from their high standards.

There can be some overlap between BDD and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) - sufferers of OCD sometimes have BDD - and vice versa. Like OCD, experts believe that serotonin levels in the brain are related to BDD, although the cause of BDD are still unclear. Treatment for BDD usually includes cognitive-bahavioural therapy with a trained mental health professional to help change the faulty thought processes which create the worrying thoughts about a person's image.

Links to other information pages about BDD:

Reach Out

Your Kids Ed