Do I Have Body Dysmorphia? Signs to Look Out For

do I have body dysmorphia

What is Body Dysmorphia?

Most of us have something we don’t like about our appearance — a crooked nose, some wrinkles in our face, a roll over our jeans, or “wings” under our arms. And though we may fret about our imperfections, they don’t interfere with our daily lives. Body dysmorphia, more specifically body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), is defined as “A relatively common and disabling psychiatric disorder characterized by excessive and persistent preoccupation with perceived defects or flaws in one’s appearance, which are unnoticeable to others, and associated repetitive behaviors (e.g., mirror checking).”[1] It is excessive to the point where their thoughts may cause such severe emotional distress it interferes with their daily functioning. They may miss work or school, avoid social situations and isolate themselves, even from family and friends, because they fear others will notice their flaws.

How Do I Know If I have Body Dysmorphia?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder impacts approximately 1 out of every 50 people in the general population [2], both in males and females. The signs and symptoms that one with BDD might exhibit can vary based on factors such as individual history and personality. Most people with BDD are mostly convinced or completely convinced that they look ugly or abnormal, even though other people don’t see them this way. Common symptoms of BDD include: [3]

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Noticable change in eating patterns and behaviors (overly obsessed)
  • Constant comparison to others in efforts to receive reassurance about their body
  • Extreme exercise or weight lifting routines
  • Repetitive behaviors such as picking at one’s skin, excessive grooming, frequent mirror checking, and hygiene behaviors often for at least 1 hour a day, typically more (up to 8 hours)
  • Excessive spending on beauty products
  • Disguising certain body parts with clothing

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Poor relationships
  • Avoidance of social situations due to fear of ridicule
  • Poor self-esteem [3]
  • Obsessive-compulsive tendencies or diagnosis 
body image disorder

Can You Self Diagnose Body Dysmorphia?

It is important that you recognize and not ignore any potential signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, however like any mental or physical health condition, you should NEVER self diagnose and always consult the opinion and official diagnosis of a mental health professional.

What Triggers Body Dysmorphia?

It is believed that BDD can develop due to a combination of genetic predisposition (nature) and environmental factors such as traumatic life experiences (nurture).

  • There may be a genetic predisposition or vulnerability to the disorder, which would make a person more likely to develop BDD in certain situations. Thus some people with BDD may have a relative with BDD, OCD or depression. In fact, in the DSM-5, BDD is now classified under the Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders chapter. This is due to BDD and OCD commonly being diagnosed together.
  • Poor attachment to a career and certain stresses during adolescence such as teasing, bullying or abuse may make the person more vulnerable.
  • For some, perfectionism may be a factor but it is not generally true of people with BDD. They may however appreciate aesthetics more in themselves or others and have had training or interest in art or design. [4]

Does Body Dysmorphia Mean You Have An Eating Disorder?

People with body dysmorphic disorder may have other disorders. Some have eating disorders, anxiety disorders, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Body dysmorphic disorder has some similarities to eating disorders. People with body dysmorphic disorder and those with an eating disorder worry about their body image. The difference is that a person with an eating disorder focuses on their weight and body shape. A person with body dysmorphic disorder is anxious about a specific body part.[5]

body dysmorphia

What Do I Do Now?

Hopefully you can now see that there’s an important difference between having body insecurities and having BDD. It’s not uncommon to be unhappy about a certain physical feature and to feel self-conscious from time to time. Our coaches and programs are designed to help those who have general body insecurities. Even though they may not be as intense as BDD, they can still impact one’s quality of life and should never be put on the back burner.

Since BDD is a mental health condition that can be all-consuming and dangerous to your health, it requires a separate set of tools and possible medical treatment to manage safely and responsibly. Your mental health — your psychological, emotional, and social well-being — has an impact on every aspect of your life and is important to seek professional help. BDD is a treatable condition, but without treatment, it can have a lasting impact on a person’s life. Here is a test you can take to help you observe whether you have the signs that point to your need to seek BDD treatment:


[1] Krebs, Georgina, et al. “Recent Advances in Understanding and Managing Body Dysmorphic Disorder.” Evidence-Based Mental Health, BMJ Publishing Group, Aug. 2017, 

[2] “Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD): Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA.” Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, 

[3] “Body Dysmorphic Disorder Symptoms & Effects: Montecatini Treatment Center.” Montecatini Eating Disorder Treatment Center, 25 May 2018, 

[4] “What Causes Bdd?” BDDF, 

[5] “Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments.” Cleveland Clinic,