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Body Dysmorphic Disorder 

As statistically common as OCD but less widely reported, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is an isolating condition in which sufferers become preoccupied or distressed by an imagined flaw or defect in their appearance. To alleviate their symptoms, sufferers may compulsively check or avoid mirrors, camouflage, or hide their points of insecurity, spend large sums of money on beauty products, and seek out the services of dermatologists, hair loss specialists, and plastic surgeons. BDD can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the disorder, even professionals. Its cycle of repetitive behaviors can resemble OCD, whereas its connection to appearance distortions may cause it to be misdiagnosed as an eating disorder. For sufferers, the distress can be all-consuming, occupying at least an hour or more per day.


Typical Presentation

For BDD sufferers, most common areas of concern include the skin, hair, and nose. Sufferers may express anguish over feelings that they are malformed, misshapen, or grotesque, or may be too ashamed to divulge the source of the agony.


Muscle Dysmorphia

A subtype of BDD, muscle dysmorphia is a diagnosis for men and women who experience distress because of concerns that their body is not muscular enough, or too small. They may wear layers of clothing to "bulk up."


BDD and Eating Disorders

BDD shares many symptoms with eating disorders, to the degree that it can often be difficult to distinguish between them. Muscle dysmorphia, for example, was originally thought to be a form of an eating disorder. Food restriction or exercise behaviors may be used as a means change a specific body part, such as the shape of one's face or size of one's stomach.  Additionally, BDD can develop or remain after weight has been stabilized in eating disorder treatment. It is critical, therefore, to consider why the disordered behaviors are occurring, not just whether or not they are present.


BDD and Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria occurs when there is a discrepancy between gender identity and one's assigned sex at birth. Unlike gender dysphoria, however, BDD doesn't ultimately respond to the changes we make to our bodies. The two are not mutually exclusive, however. It's very possible to experience both at the same time. Nevertheless, gender dysphoria is connected to the feeling that a body part or parts are not as they should be (of different biological structure than gender identity), but not necessarily mental distortion of the body part—unless the person in question suffers from both.

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