What causes BDD?

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

The reason someone develops BDD will be different for everyone, and there is no one reason or cause. There is still lots of research needed around why it develops, but what we know so far is that it can be due to nature (genetics) or nurture (environmental factors). Often, it will be a combination of both. Here are some examples of why BDD might develop:

  • Someone may have a higher genetic likelihood of having BDD. This makes them more vulnerable to developing it. Not always, but it may be that they have a relative with BDD, OCD or depression.
  • Someone may have experienced abuse about their appearance. For example, bullying or teasing during adolescence. If they don’t have strong support networks or people they can turn to during this time, they may be even more vulnerable to developing BDD.
  • Some may have a heightened sense for detail and creativity, possibly being a perfectionist. Although this is not always the case.

Once BDD has started, the person will begin judging themselves negatively and bullying themselves in their mind. This maintains the BDD, alongside checking behaviours, comparison, reassurance seeking, excessive self-focus and avoidance behaviours.

The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation. Charity no. 1153753.