The Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) Research Program

About Us

The BDD Research Program in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic is dedicated to improving the lives of people with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). We aim to better understand the causes of BDD and develop new treatments. 

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?

Body dysmorphic disorder is a disorder in which people are preoccupied with the appearance of a certain part of their body which they perceive to be flawed or ugly. The most common areas of concern for people with BDD are skin, hair, and facial features. BDD affects 1-2% of the general population, and it affects men and women in equal numbers. 

Individuals with BDD may:

  • Spend more than an hour a day worrying about their appearance
  • Engage in repetitive behaviors to fix or hide the perceived flaw, such as seeking reassurance
  • Avoid situations due to embarrassment about their appearance 
  • Seek cosmetic treatments to change perceived defects 

While many people dislike certain things about the way they look, people with BDD find that their worries about their appearance or behaviors used to hide perceived defects interfere with their relationships, work, and daily life. 

How is BDD treated?

The first line treatments for BDD are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and a type of medication called serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SRIs). 

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be the most effective form of psychotherapy for BDD. The goal of CBT is to help individuals reframe negative thoughts about themselves and their appearance and learn strategies to decrease behaviors such as repeatedly checking the mirror, avoiding anxiety-provoking situations, and trying to conceal or fix perceived flaws. 
  • Serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) are medications used to treat depression and anxiety disorders, and there is evidence that they can be helpful to reduce obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors in BDD.