Feelings and Symptoms

BDD can cause emotional distress, including feeling of anxiety, shame, depression and disgust. Even if sufferers’ concerns about their appearance aren’t noticeable to others, their distress is very real.

Common Worries

  • The most common worries are usually around parts of the face e.g. skin, hair, nose, eyes, chin, and teeth. However, any part of the body can become a focus of concern, including genitals.
  • Some people with BDD do not worry about specific features but instead say that they feel generally ugly. Others say that they do not mind their individual features but feel that they do not “fit together” properly or do not look symmetrical.
  • Sometimes young people worry that they look too feminine or masculine, or that they do not look right compared to their family or others.

Common Behaviours

  • People with BDD typically carry out a range of repetitive behaviours to try to cope with their appearance concerns.
  • They can spend huge amounts of time examining their appearance in mirrors and other reflective surfaces or may avoid looking in mirrors as they find this too distressing.
  • It is very common for people with BDD to also spend a lot of time carrying out grooming routines, such as applying make-up and cosmetic products. This is not about vanity; it’s about trying to correct their perceived defects in an attempt to look “normal”.
  • Seeking reassurance about their appearance is common too. 
  • Some people with BDD engage in behaviours that can be harmful when they are trying to improve their appearance e.g. picking spots or skin, which actually then causes scars and further anxiety.
  • Young people may try to avoid being around other people causing them to miss a lot of school and avoid family or social activities. They may start responding differently to family and friends.
  • Someone with BDD may spend an excessive amount of time on social media, often comparing their appearance to others online or researching makeup techniques or cosmetic treatments.

Take the test

Do I have BDD? Our test, developed by specialists and healthcare professionals, can help you understand whether you might have Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Do I have BDD?

The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation. Charity no. 1153753.