For Families

What You Need to Know

Carrie Asselin shares her brother’s struggles with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and the importance of seeking treatment as a family.

Many BDD sufferers are embarrassed or hesitant to share their symptoms with others for fear of being misunderstood. Family members are often confused, recognizing that a problem exists but not being able to identify it. Symptoms of BDD can be very similar to other psychological conditions (such as depression, social anxiety, or OCD), so it can be a challenge to help your loved one get the care they need.

In this section of the website we have put together a series of articles to give you an overview of what you need to know to help a loved one who is possibly suffering from BDD.

First, we wanted to provide you with a checklist of possible things to look for if you suspect your loved one has BDD. These range from excessive mirror checking (or avoiding mirrors) to withdrawing from social situations to excessive questions directed toward you about how they look.

If you do believe your loved one has BDD, the next step is to help them find effective treatment. If that is the case, you can read more about BDD treatment here as well as find BDD specialists using our Resource Directory here. However, for some, getting your loved one into treatment may end up being a challenge. In the article Motivating Family Members and Friends to Participate in Treatment, we list a number of suggestions and tips that might help move your loved toward getting the help they need.

Being consumed with obsessive thoughts about appearance can greatly interfere with focus and concentration, which are necessary to perform well in school. In addition, time-consuming rituals can take much more time than intended, leading students to be late for school or not show up at all. It is very important to have a comprehensive, information-sharing meeting with your child’s school if BDD symptoms are interfering with his or her academic functioning. Click here for more information about “How to Talk with Schools.”

Finally, we included a few personal stories from parents of teens and young adults with BDD. One of these is from the Asselin family, who write: “If your child or sibling has been diagnosed with BDD, your family life has most likely been dramatically impacted by the disorder, if not thrown into turmoil. Ours certainly was. Everyone was affected when our seventeen-year old son, Nathaniel, who since age 11 had struggled with what we thought was OCD and anxiety, suddenly couldn’t leave the home if he had a tiny blemish or nicked his chin shaving.”  They share what they learned after BDD descended into their home and took over.