Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a psychiatric illness in which individuals are preoccupied with perceived defects in their appearance, resulting in time consuming rituals and causing clinically significant distress or impairment in functioning. Although the clinical symptoms of BDD are well established, less is known about the causes or how the symptoms develop and progress over time. And, there remains a low level of awareness about BDD even within the mental health and psychiatric professions.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is often misdiagnosed, under-diagnosed, and, in general, poorly understood. At quick glance, it has many overlapping features with eating disorders, as well as other psychiatric disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder. The lack of insight in BDD patients can also have a delusional quality resulting in being misdiagnosed as a psychotic disorder instead.
In 2013, BDD was recategorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as an “obsessive compulsive related disorder”. Although more research and resources are now being directed at the disorder, there still remains a great need for professionals who can recognize and treat BDD effectively.
In this section, we have included information about what to look for as you consider a diagnosis of BDD for a patient or client:
- What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
- Signs and Symptoms
- Prevalence Rates
- The Neurobiology of Body Dysmorphic Disorder
You may also find information in our “Expert Opinions” section of the website helpful. In particular, there are in-depth articles on two subtypes of BDD (muscle dysmorphia and BDD by proxy) as well as information on the ineffectiveness of cosmetic procedures in the BDD population.
Diagnosis, Clinical Assessment, and Treatment of BDD
This section also includes information for professionals related to diagnosis, clinical assessment, and effective treatments for BDD.
As noted by one of the leading researchers and therapists in the BDD field:
“Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that many patients with BDD do not spontaneously reveal their BDD symptoms to their clinician because they are too embarrassed and ashamed, fear being negatively judged (e.g., considered vain), feel the clinician will not understand their appearance concerns, or do not know that body image concerns are treatable. Yet, research has shown that patients want their clinician to ask them about BDD symptoms.” — Katharine Phillips, MD
In addition, clinicians need to keep in mind how to differentiate BDD from other related disorders and to attend carefully to issues surrounding insight, motivation, and suicidality. For more information on these topics, please review the articles below:
Finally, there are two empirically supported treatments for BDD: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medications. We provide an overview of both of these modalities as well:
Continuing Education, Networking, and Other Professional Opportunities at the Foundation
From educational opportunities to networking, the IOCDF has much to offer the mental health professional community. Our professional and institutional members form a strong community of knowledgeable providers and researchers who are working to improve the lives of those affected by BDD, OCD, and other related disorders, across the US, and around the world. By becoming a member of the IOCDF, you are joining the “best of the best” in OCD and related disorders treatment and research.