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Breaking Down Body Dysmorphia

Let me begin with the basics. What is body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD?

John Hopkins Medicine defines it as “a mental health disorder. If you have BDD, you may be so worried about the way your body looks that it interferes with your ability to function normally. You may take extreme measures such as repeated cosmetic surgical procedures to correct the perceived flaw.” 

Mayo Clinic describes it as “a mental health condition in which you can't stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can't be seen by others. But you may feel so embarrassed, ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations.” 

Another article published by the NHS UK states “Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others. People of any age can have BDD, but it's most common in teenagers and young adults. It affects both men and women.” 

They all come down to the exact conclusion; it is the constant thinking about physical appearance. You might feel too much of something and not enough of something else. It makes people spiral mentally to the point that they cannot focus on daily tasks and develop other problems. Like many other illnesses, they create a domino effect if not appropriately addressed or on time. One particular characteristic of BDD is that it is incredibly ignored by society.


Studies point out that a mix of environmental, psychological, and biological factors lead to body dysmorphic disorder. Child trauma, like bullying or teasing, can cause or add to feelings of not being good enough, shame, or fear of being laughed at. Today, social media platforms and marketing campaigns for big brands use body image as one of the common consumer pain points to attract people to buy their products or services. 

Think about it: if you feel whole, you need less and buy less. You will consume less because you don't have the desire to belong or to change something about yourself. 

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health condition that affects an estimated 1-2% of the general population. Research has also identified a genetic component of BDD. Studies have found that individuals with BDD are more likely to have a first-degree relative with a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression.


Research has suggested that several neurological factors may contribute to body dysmorphic disorder. Here are some of the key findings:

  1. Differences in Brain Structure: Studies have found that individuals with BDD have structural differences in certain parts of the brain, particularly in the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. The prefrontal cortex is involved in decision-making, planning, and impulse control. The limbic system is involved in regulating emotions. These structural differences may contribute to difficulties regulating emotions and making rational decisions about body image.
  2. Alterations in Brain Function: Functional imaging studies have also shown that individuals with BDD exhibit differences in brain function when processing visual stimuli related to their appearance. For example, they may have heightened activity in the visual processing areas of the brain, as well as in areas related to emotional processing, such as the amygdala.
  3. Dysfunctional Neurotransmitter Systems: Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that help to regulate mood, emotions, and behavior. Studies have suggested that imbalances in certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate, may play a role in the development of BDD. For example, imbalances in serotonin have been linked to anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviors, which are common in individuals with BDD.
  4. Genetics: Finally, studies have also suggested that there may be a genetic component to BDD. Research has identified several genes that may be associated with the disorder, including those involved in regulating neurotransmitters and genes involved in developing brain structure and function.

Let's take a step back and look at this from a less medical point of view. - Although I will break down my opinion about what happens in the human brain, I would appreciate it if you leave a comment to open a healthy and nutritious discussion. - Anyways, what if you approach me with a concern about fasted cardio, and I give you complete information about fasting plus another suggestion about your shoulders (which you didn't ask for)? I point out that you need bigger shoulders to look stronger. At first, it doesn't resonate, but after I repeat it three times, you begin to doubt yourself. You will come back to me, and I will bring you a solution that requires you to purchase something from me. 

Why am I saying this? This is just a small example of how you can fall into a sales pitch and not even notice it. So many social media marketing strategies point out scarcity feelings in your life you haven't even noticed. It's challenging to discharge all of them, even if you are a marketer. A significant percentage of body dysmorphia is related to the constant information we are bombarded with, telling us that we are not enough until we have "this and that" product. "This and that" is related to all sorts of products that will eventually make you 'whole,' and that includes intervening in your body, sometimes even becoming unrecognizable. 

For those who suffer from body dysmorphia, the effects can be profound. They may engage in obsessive behaviors such as constantly checking their appearance in mirrors, avoiding social situations, or seeking out cosmetic procedures to "fix" their perceived flaws. This can lead to a cycle of negative thoughts and behaviors that can be difficult to break.

However, it is important to remember that body dysmorphia is a treatable condition. Seeking professional help, such as therapy, life coaching, or counseling, can be incredibly helpful in learning to manage and overcome the condition. Additionally, surrounding oneself with a supportive community that promotes body positivity can be highly beneficial.

It is important to remember that everyone is unique and beautiful in their way. We should strive to celebrate and embrace our differences rather than feel ashamed. The body positivity movement is a great example of this, promoting self-love and acceptance for all body types. 

If you are struggling with body dysmorphia, remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you manage and overcome this condition. Seeking professional help and connecting with supportive communities can make all the difference in learning to love and accept yourself just as you are. You are beautiful and deserve to feel confident and happy in your skin.


Overcoming body dysmorphia can be a challenging process. Still, with the right tools and strategies, it is possible to manage and reduce the impact of this condition. Here are some helpful tools to help individuals with body dysmorphia:

  1. Seek Professional Help: A therapist or counselor can provide support, guidance, and treatment options to help individuals cope with their negative thoughts and behaviors.
  2. Challenge Negative Thoughts: One of the main features of body dysmorphia is negative self-talk. It is essential to learn how to recognize and challenge these negative thoughts by asking questions such as "Is this thought realistic or evidence-based?" or "What evidence do I have to support this thought?"
  3. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help individuals with body dysmorphia become more aware of their thoughts and feelings without judgment. By practicing mindfulness regularly, individuals can learn to identify negative thought patterns and replace them with positive ones.
  4. Focus on Health, Not Appearance: Instead of obsessing over appearance, focus on healthy behaviors such as eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and getting enough rest. By focusing on health instead of fitness, you can feel more positive and in control of your body.
  5. Surround Yourself with Positive Support: Surrounding oneself with positive, body-positive people can be incredibly helpful in managing body dysmorphia. Joining a supportive community, such as a wellness community, can provide a safe and encouraging space to share experiences and seek support.
  6. Limit Social Media: Social media can be a breeding ground for negative body image messages. Limiting time spent on social media, unfollowing triggering accounts, and following body-positive influencers can help reduce negative messages' impact on mental health.
  7. Practice Gratitude: Cultivating a daily gratitude practice can help individuals with body dysmorphia to focus on the positive aspects of their life and shift their attention away from negative thoughts.
  8. Community Work: Get out of your head! Helping others that suffer from other types of problems can help you have more perspective on life's priorities. Sometimes we create problems in our heads because we take things for granted and forget we are part of a privileged small percentage of the population. Give back to the community!

Remember that overcoming body dysmorphia is a process, and it may take time to see progress. But with the right tools and strategies, it is possible to manage and overcome this condition and feel more confident and positive about oneself. 

You are more than just a body,