Steps You Can Take If You’re Struggling with Body Dysmorphia

Cleveland Clinic

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a serious mental health condition that is common among youth. It involves an obsessive focus on one’s perceived flaws in terms of their physical appearance. 

Individuals with BDD often experience intense distress and anxiety related to these perceived flaws. This condition can significantly impact one’s self-esteem, daily functioning, and overall quality of life. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, BDD is found in about 2.5 percent of males in the US. It’s also reported that 2.2 percent of females in the country also have BDD. If you or someone you know is struggling with body dysmorphia, here are a few steps you can take to cope and seek support.

Recognize the Symptoms

The first step in addressing body dysmorphia is to recognize the symptoms. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are a few common symptoms people with BDD need to look out for. These include the tendency to spend excessive time checking their appearance in mirrors, avoiding social situations, seeking reassurance about their looks, and so on. 

They may also engage in behaviors like excessive grooming, comparing themselves to others, or using makeup and clothing to hide their perceived flaws. 

Understanding these signs can help you identify whether you or someone you care about might be struggling with body dysmorphia.

Seek Professional Help

If you suspect you have body dysmorphia, it’s crucial to seek help from mental health professionals. Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists who specialize in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and related techniques can provide effective treatment for BDD. 

CBT can help you challenge and change negative thought patterns related to your appearance, and therapists can offer tools to manage anxiety and distress.

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In some cases, medication may also be recommended alongside therapy to manage symptoms. However, don’t self-diagnose and start taking medication without expert advice. Doing so can lead to the development of various health issues. 

Stay Off Social Media

HealthNews reports that 22.89 percent of US women believe that social media impacts their perception of their bodies. Another 17.81 percent of men reported believing the same. Therefore, it’s easy to see that social media is causing body dysmorphia in many. 

In fact, social media’s contributing to causing mental health problems like BDD is what led to the Instagram lawsuit. As per this lawsuit, there are many teens and young adults who suffer from mental health issues because of using Instagram and Facebook. These individuals are eligible to file lawsuits against these social media companies for impacting their mental health this way. 

According to TorHoerman Law, Instagram use can lead to several types of mental health problems. These include everything from depression and anxiety to eating disorders, ADHD, and self-harm ideation. Body dysmorphia has also been mentioned in this list. 

Thus, it’s in your best interest to stay off social media if you’re struggling with BDD. As you keep yourself away from content that demoralizes you and lowers your self-esteem, you can focus on other important things in life. That, in turn, will not allow body dysmorphia to be as impactful in your life as it can be otherwise. 

Challenge Negative Thoughts

One of the central aspects of body dysmorphia is distorted thinking. People with BDD tend to magnify their perceived flaws and overlook their positive attributes. Thus, challenging and reframing such negative thoughts becomes crucial in the recovery process. 

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Consider keeping a journal to record your thoughts and feelings surrounding your appearance. Objectively assess the evidence for and against your thoughts if you ever find yourself engaging in negative self-talk. Over time, you’ll start to build a more balanced perspective.

Limit Mirror Checking and Avoid Compulsive Behaviors

Constantly checking the mirror or engaging in compulsive behaviors to alleviate anxiety can reinforce negative thought patterns associated with body dysmorphia. While it’s challenging, making a conscious effort to reduce mirror checking and compulsive grooming can be highly beneficial. 

Set specific times for mirror checks and gradually decrease their frequency. Replace compulsive behaviors with healthier activities, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones, to redirect your focus and reduce anxiety.


Body dysmorphia is a common phenomenon these days, especially because of how impactful social media has become in our lives. However, that doesn’t mean you have to live with BDD for the rest of your life. 

As long as you don’t allow the negative thoughts to get to you, BDD won’t be that big of a problem to deal with. For that, seek all the support you need, as discussed above. Channeling your negative thoughts in the right ways and through the right places and individuals can help you overcome body dysmorphia with ease. 

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