Signs and Symptoms of Body Dysmorphia BDD How can you tell the difference between someone who doesn’t like something about their body and someone suffering with BDD?

It is a good question as most of us probably have a few things we would love to change about our appearance. The main difference is the mental and emotional obsession. If you have body dysmorphia then you won’t be able to stop obsessing about the way you look. For some people this can last several hours or even an entire day and they will be obsessed with thinking about their body part or planning and scheming about what they plan to do about it.

Have you ever you ever decided you wanted to lose weight so much that you tell yourself or maybe try to show yourself that you are fat? Does then the body part you hate become a big issue and you either find yourself thinking about that or about how you can overcome it with diets or weight loss products. You get so preoccupied it infiltrates your daily thinking right? Well this is the same for Body Dysmorphic sufferers it may not be connected to fat, but they will spend time worrying about it or scheming ways to change it, most likely getting any kind of counselling or treatment will be last on the list.  Instead of getting BDD treatment they will spend hours and thousands of dollars looking for solutions to hide or change their body part.

It becomes challenging because it is hard to switch off from it and it will therefore dampen their mood. Other times they may feel a temporary relief if they have a plan for extreme dieting, avoiding social interactions or surgery. Either way it’s an obsession.

People with Body Dysmorphic Disorder BDD will find it difficult to control their obsessions and this is why it can limit their social life, effect their eating habits and distract them from work, school or other activities they need to focus on. It will of course unavoidably lead to low self-esteem and low mood. Low self-esteem can then affect results in all areas of life.

Many body dysmorphia disorder sufferers will perform some type of compulsive or repetitive behavior in an attempt to hide or improve their flaws. Although these behaviors usually give only temporary relief.  This is why body dysmorphic disorder often gets linked to obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and eating disorders.

Signs of Body Dysmorphia BDD Behavior


  • Camouflaging – this is where a BDD sufferer will go to great lengths to hide their perceived flaws. For example: they may hide parts of their body under clothing all the time, they may sit or stand or look at people from a certain angle, they may use makeup, hair wigs, hats to also cover up parts of their body. Most women wear make up yet the difference with this one is a real fear of that body part being exposed. For example with a man I helped who hated his stomach so much that he could not put the light on when showering. When he went swimming he always had to keep a t-shirt on even with only his close family and on holiday abroad.


  • Constant comparing of a body part to other people’s body parts. In the body dysmorphia online counselling treatment I always ask someone who and what they are comparing themselves with. Often it is against other friends and family members, or themselves 10 years younger, it is always done with the purpose of putting oneself down. In an effort to highlight how big they see their problem and flaw is.


  • Surgery – Those with body dysmorphic disorder are highly like to seek cosmetic surgery. Sadly often one surgery is rarely enough and this is when an addiction to cosmetic surgery begins, because one is often only the beginning. In fact this is what breaks my heart about cosmetic surgery addiction, people change and change themselves and lose touch with who they really are: their soul, their heart, their personality. It makes me think of Michael  Jackson, look how far he went to change himself. It can be difficult to know when people seek surgery is this an act of self-love or is this body dysmorphia in disguise. Counselling to talk it through can help to question am I doing this for the right reasons and will this be enough, will I be happy.


  • Mirrors – those with BDD may constantly check themselves in the mirror all the time, as they are preoccupied with how they look. Or they may do the opposite, they may avoid using mirrors all together. Just like the man I mentioned earlier when we started working together he could not look at himself in the mirror. Other people may choose to cover mirrors and avoid looking at their reflection in shopping malls etc. This can be body dysmorphia and it can also be the affect of an eating disorder too, seeing yourself as disgusting.


  • Grooming – excessive grooming is also common, spending hours to get ready even for day to day activities, because they cannot be seen without this ritual.


  • Exercise – engaging in excessive exercise, just like purging behavior with eating disorders where they do more than recommended amounts and push their bodies to the limits


  • Changing clothing – some will feel uncomfortable in their clothes and find themselves changing their clothes excessively and repeatedly again and again


Do any of the above symptoms and signs of body dysmorphia disorder apply to you?



If you had asked me if I had body dysmorphia before I studied it, I would have said no I don’t have that. However, once I read the signs and symptoms of body dysmorphia I realized that yes I probably had had it for many years and it was linked to my eating disorders. The reason I would have said no, was because whilst I was very thin I could see I was thin and yet, most of the time I could still see some fat areas where there were none.  I have always had an issue with my stomach to be honest, it is larger than the rest of my body and is slightly out of proportion. For many years every single time I went to the toilet I used to show myself my stomach and push it out in front of the mirror. I’d tell myself you are fat, your stomach is so fat, it’s disgusting.


I also would not allow any man to touch my stomach area or go near it, I couldn’t stand it. It would make me want to recoil and run away when they went near it.  I couldn’t bare acknowledging my stomach was there and part of me. I used to hit it, push it in, and hurt myself by showing myself every time I was in front of the mirror how bad it was.  Was this body dysmorphia disorder? Well it certainly was obsessive so looking back knowing what I do now yes,  I definitely show the signs of someone who has BDD. It would take up hours of my time, I’d excessively exercise and diet to get rid of it, I’d look at it, obsess about it, feel hatred towards it.


Then there were other thoughts I had about my body which did used to occupy my mind. Thoughts like I have a double chin, fat under my arms, chubby cheeks, bags under my eyes, horrible hair, cellulite. This used to get to me until I began my inner journey of self-love and acceptance.  It didn’t happen over night as the disgust and fear of fat was so strong and I was so used to consistently bullying myself. It took a lot of practice and actions to change but I did get there in the end, you can too.


Thanks to the self-love program I created my thoughts have lessened and no longer limit my life.  Yet I am so pleased I learned about body dysmorphia because and started helping people with it, because I am able to catch myself. I did a lot of work to stop the binge, starve and purge cycle and I no longer see my body as fat. But I did like many of those men and women I now help start to focus on the wrinkles on my face or the bags under my eyes or my hair, or my teeth or focused on how my body is aging.


I’d get caught up in those thoughts. I’d dream about changing or fixing my issue whether with a diet, excessive exercise regime or surgery, I’d think about it and my plan when I woke, I’d constantly check the mirror and ask myself what am I going to do about these defects. I’d say have to do something about it, I’d feel less motivated to see people or go to social gatherings, I’d want to wait until I had fixed the issues before I saw everyone.


The day I discovered I had body dysmorphia disorder and probably have had it my whole life, was a special moment for me. Suddenly everything made sense, and I felt like crying tears of both relief and compassion towards myself.


I felt relieved because I knew the cure, I knew how to solve this…


The only way to cure the body dysmorphia disorder is love.

Three three parts to this treatment


1, Self-love

Love for yourself, for these negative and low vibe thoughts about yourself are just your desire to be loved. The obsession is a call for love and a misunderstanding that love is not there and available when it is.


2, Giving love

Loving others to get out of our own minds and focus on how we can love and help others, really works to escape it.

Gratitude for what we have in life, counting our blessings.


3, Receiving love

Receiving love from others and divine love, offering our fears, thoughts, compulsions over to a higher power, god, creator, spirit or higher self whatever you believe to support us to let go and accept the body we have been given


This is what I call love energy and I have developed the love energy tool kit to help people and to form a part of body dysmorphia treatment to support them to really love themselves. It is a six-week course focusing on loving yourself because without loving yourself it’s difficult to make sure that body dysmorphia disorder treatment is going to be effective. The course is normally $497 however because I want everyone to be able to have access to it, it’s only $97 for 2018, the price may go up in 2019.


I am not saying I never get thoughts like “I’m fat” “I’m ugly” “I’m wrinkly” “My hair looks horrible” but I observe them from a distance and let them come and go.  Because I know that they are not worth my energy. Before I would over think, plan and scheme about how I was going to fix myself and the issue, now I am able to let it go. I also did several years of emotional body work clearing, where I released the trauma of past. Being a victim of sexual abuse as a teenager and physical and emotional abuse from my mother my hatred of self was deep rooted. In my experience supporting others to become free from body dysmorphia disorder the self-love focus works best when combined with processing and releasing previous trauma. It is not always possible to focus only on self-love for effective body dysmorphia treatment.  BDD is aptly described as the disease of “self-perceived ugliness.”


Often this “self-perceived ugliness” comes from traumatic events or situations.


Other Body dysmorphia treatment options vary, they can include CBT which can be useful to change the thought patterns. Some also advocate anti-depressant medications for this. If you are seeking anti-depressant medication for BDD then consult your doctor and they can refer you to a psychologist and psychiatrist.


Coming up I will share more on body dysmorphia disorder and how it relates to eating disorders. If you are interested in this be sure to subscribe to my podcast show emotions and eating with Nicola Beer on Itunes and 10 other podcast platforms.

If you have any questions about the individual or couple therapy that I offer in Online or in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE do get in touch