“What is Teenage Body Dysmorphic Disorder?”


“What is Teenage Body Dysmorphic Disorder?” ichhori.com

 “What is Teenage Body Dysmorphic Disorder?”

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a distressing or impairing fixation with a perceived or minor flaw in one's appearance that generally develops around adolescence. People with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) think that certain portions of their bodies are unattractive. BDD patients spend hours focusing on what they believe is wrong with their appearance. They examine, adjust, cover up, or question about their appearance several times during the day. They concentrate on defects that others consider insignificant. BDD is a serious condition that appears to obstruct normal teenage growth. Furthermore, body image is crucial for adolescent growth. Negative body image is linked to depression, anxiety, and the fear of negative evaluation in teenagers, and it may be the most important contributor to their overall self-esteem. 
Some people may undertake a variety of cosmetic treatments to "correct" the apparent fault. They may feel temporary comfort or a reduction in their distress thereafter, but the worry usually returns, and they may start looking for new methods to correct this perceived defect.
Prevalence of Teenage Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 1.7% to 2.9% of the population, or around 1 in every 50 people. In a study conducted to assess BDD, 86% of teenagers were female. Adolescents have always been overly preoccupied with various parts of the body (past and present). Skin (acne/scarring/“marks”), hair (excess body hair and thinning/balding), stomach, weight, and teeth were the most prevalent areas of concern among teenagers (male and female adolescents did not significantly differ in the frequency of concern with these body areas). 
54.3% of adolescents reported thinking about their appearance for more than 3 h a day; 40.0% reported moderate distress, 48.6% severe distress, and 5.7% extreme and disabling distress due to BDD; 25.7% experienced moderate functional impairment, 60.0% severe impairment, and 5.7% extreme impairment due to BDD; and 25.7% experienced moderate functional impairment, 60.0% severe impairment, and 5.7% extreme impairment due to BDD. Suicidal thoughts and attempts were common in both adolescents and adults during the course of their lives. A substantially greater proportion (44.4%) of teenagers than adults had attempted suicide, with 80.6% reporting lifetime suicidal thoughts. Due to BDD, 22.2% of teenagers have dropped out of school (11.1% permanently and 11.1% temporarily).

Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Although the symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder vary from person to person, there are certain common warning signs to look for. 

  • Extreme focus on their looks: People with BDD find it difficult to stop thinking about the aspects of their appearance that they dislike. They concentrate on certain details, such as a pimple on their face or the shape or appearance of their nose, eyes, lips, ears, or hands. They are obsessed with a perceived fault in their looks that someone else can notice or regard as insignificant. Muscle size (muscle dysphoria), weight, complexion, scars, hair, or fixations on specific physical areas such as the hips, nose, ears, calves, or genitals are all common worries. Adolescents with BDD may be concerned with their looks for several hours each day. They may struggle to concentrate in class or do schoolwork because they are concerned about their looks or researching operations or treatments that they believe will cure their “imperfections”. The disorder can isolate teen from their peers, making normal social interactions difficult.
  • Fix or hide their flaws: People with BDD have a strong need to examine their appearance repeatedly. Many times a day, they will ask people how they look or "fix" their appearance. They engage in difficult to resist or regulate habits such as frequent checking of the mirror, grooming, or skin picking in order to correct or hide the perceived fault. They use grooming, cosmetics, and clothing to cover up perceived faults. 
  • Seeking reassurance: Adolescents suffering with BDD Others are frequently sought for reassurance regarding their looks. They are compelled to seek reassurance from family or friends about their perceived flaws. They are often harping on the perceived defect or attempting to persuade others of how awful or ugly it is.
  • Compulsively compare: They are always comparing themselves to others. They feel compelled to compare their looks to others around them, as well as those they see in magazines or on social media.
  • Believing the flaws are real: BDD patients do not view their bodies as they are, or as others see them. They concentrate on faults that are hardly noticeable to others. They believe they appear to be unattractive, despite the fact that this is not the case. They are convinced that they have a flaw in their look that makes them unattractive or deformed. They believe that others make a harsh or mocking comment about their looks. People who suffer from BDD are more inclined to believe what they are obsessed on. They believe that what they see in the mirror is a true reflection of their appearance. Other individuals see things differently, yet they find it difficult to accept (Dr. Bubrick).

Causes of BDD

The exact cause of the disorder is unknown. However, there are biopsychosocial risk factors that play a significant role in why a person may suffer from body dysmorphic disorder.

  • Psychological trauma, particularly bullying, can result in a distorted body image and an overly sensitive sense of aesthetics, leading to an excessive kind of perfectionism. Teenagers who are often teased about their appearance may develop an unrealistic self-image. Excess stress, typically in the form of academic responsibilities or bullying, is usually the cause of flare-ups after the disorder has manifested.
  • Genetics — inheritability is believed to be 43%, as body dysmorphic disorder may be primarily related to specific inheritable brain issues.
  • Media influence – It has been proposed and partially proven through correlation that media consumption influences body dysmorphic disorder, leading teens to believe they must conform to an unrealistic physical standard, particularly in terms of certain unchangeable features like height and bone structure. Many adolescents deal with a variety of body image concerns, in part owing to advertising, social media, and other factors, rather than coming to terms with their bodies and learning to accept who they are.

What can be done

BDD can be treated by the following:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): It can assist persons with BDD in realising that their thoughts have an impact on how they feel. People learn to observe their thoughts in CBT. They learn to fight the negative notions in their heads. They discover that they have the power to alter their perceptions of their bodies. People learn to focus less on defects in CBT over time and with a lot of assistance. They learn to quit examining and correcting their appearances.
  • Medicine: BDD is treated with medications that help serotonin function properly. These are sometimes referred to as SSRI medications. SSRI medications can help patients feel less depressed and concentrate less on their appearance. They can make more progress in CBT if they are less distressed.

Because body dysmorphic disorder frequently begins in early adolescence, detecting the illness and initiating therapy early may be beneficial. If parents are concerned about BDD, the best thing they can do for their children is to set a positive example by modelling a healthy connection with their own body, monitor warning signs, and seek medical help if their child appears to be struggling. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a serious mental illness, and it is best to avoid being judgmental and instead urge the child or adolescent to seek professional assistance.


  1. https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/teenage-body-dysmorphic-disorder/

  2. https://mhanational.org/body-dysmorphic-disorder-bdd-and-youth

  3. https://paradigmtreatment.com/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-teen-young-adult/body-dysmorphia/

  4. https://evolvetreatment.com/parent-guides/body-dysmorphic/

  5. https://childmind.org/article/body-dysmorphic-disorder/

  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1592052/

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