Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is the name given to a condition in which a person spends a lot of time concerned about their appearance. They may compare their looks with other people’s, worry that they are physically flawed and spend a long time in front of a mirror concealing what they believe is a defect.

At some time or another, almost everybody feels unhappy about the way they look, but these thoughts usually come and go and can be forgotten. However, for a person with BDD, the thought of a flaw is very distressing and does not go away, even though other people may think that there is nothing wrong with the way that person looks.

Although BDD is not exactly the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), there are similarities.  For instance, a person with BDD may feel that they have to repeat certain acts. A few examples are:

  • checking how they look
  • repeatedly combing their hair or applying make-up
  • picking their skin to make it ‘smooth’

They may feel that they cannot go out in public unless they have hidden the problem area in some way, with clothing or make-up.

Some people with BDD occasionally also have depression.


How BDD may affect you?

  • spend much of the day checking their appearance; this impacts on managing normal activities.
  • carry out their rituals and behaviours in secret, or may give excuses about why they are doing something in secret.



Self help

To help you develop an awareness and insight into your condition.


The most appropriate medication to meet your needs will be discussed with you. 

Psychological treatment

Psychological therapies are used to help develop effective coping habits and problem solving skills.  Psychological therapies have particular goals, and, if appropriate, the therapy relevant to your needs will be identified with you.


Further information

See the ‘for patients and carers’ section of the trust website: for information on:

  • conditions
  • care and treatment
  • local and national support organisations
  • support for families and carers


Adapted from ‘Understanding NICE guidance – information for people with OCD and BDD, their families and carers and the public’.





Leaflet reference:




Date last updated:

12 / 2017

Archive date:

12 / 2020