Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and Weight

Understand the link between weight and body dysmorphia

We all have at least one thing we wish were different about our appearance. If you sometimes think about your thighs or hips, this is NOT a disorder. If you wish you were taller or try to avoid some clothes because of how they fit, this is NOT a disorder.

Even if you really want to lose 10 lbs. or get rid of some cellulite, you still don’t meet the criteria for a medical diagnosis. However, you might have a problem and need to see a healthcare professional if any of these thoughts or behaviors become:

  • Uncontrollable, constant and negative
  • Extreme sources of stress
  • Consuming of all your time

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is very different from having harmless everyday complaints. It is a diagnosis that consumes your time and energy and can be debilitating. BDD is an obsessive disorder that causes you to focus all your thoughts on a particular flaw – real or imagined. It shouldn’t be ignored or taken lightly because it can overtake someone’s life.

Weight/size is a common focus among people who have BDD. Some people with BDD also have eating disorders. Other signs may include over-training with weights, overuse of supplements or steroid abuse.

Key BDD Statistics:

  • It affects <3% of people in the U.S.
  • It affects men and women equally
  • Nearly 70% of cases show signs before age 18

The Effects of BDD

BDD consumes every minute, of every hour, of every day. It is in the same family of diagnoses as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). A person with BDD has never-ending thoughts that pain them and a laser-sharp focus on how they look.

BDD can lead to:

  • Social anxiety or isolation
  • Excessive grooming
  • Compliment seeking
  • A need for reassurance
  • Troubles with concentration
  • Emotional anguish
  • Attempts at suicide, in some cases

For instance, someone who is overly concerned about their stomach or their size may want to be left alone, drop out of school or have anxiety about meeting new people. It is considered an “extreme” sense of insecurity and can affect all aspects of life.

Diagnosing and Treating BDD

A healthcare provider like a psychologist or psychiatrist must diagnose and treat BDD. It often occurs in people who have been abused or neglected as children. When a close relative has OCD, the chances of developing BDD are higher.

BDD is treatable. Most healthcare providers choose to treat it with behavioral and/or cognitive therapy and medication. It usually takes time to resolve and is not as simple as “getting over it.”

If you suffer from any of the points mentioned above, you should talk with a trusted professional. To learn more about BDD, Click Here for information and resources.



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