What is body dysmorphic disorder?

This is where things become not normal, and may be indicative of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) — a condition that is far more common than you may think.

“BDD impacts anywhere from 5 to 7 million Americans,” says Catherine Silver, a licensed clinical social worker specializing in the treatment of eating disorders and body image issues.

“BDD is characterized by an obsession with a perceived flaw or defect on one’s body.

This perceived flaw is either non-existent to minor and is typically focused on a specific body part or area such as the size of someone’s nose, a certain patch of skin, their hair or a scar.”

“The dysmorphia component of BDD precludes someone who actually has the flaw as they see it,” Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist, tells NBC News BETTER.

Dr. Kate Craigen, clinical director of binge eating and bariatric support services at Walden Behavioral Care points to the DSM-5 to sum up the main symptoms of BDD:The severity of your disdain for whatever perceived flaw really depends, and you don’t have to think your body (or an aspect of it) is absolutely grotesque in order to have BDD.

“People with BDD may describe the area of preoccupation on a spectrum of looking ‘not quite right’ to ‘hideous and disgusting,’” explains Dr. Craigen.

Dr. Manly adds that she’s seeing more and more men struggling with BDD.

Dr. Craigen adds that one form of BDD, muscle dysmorphia (the preoccupation with the idea that one’s body is too small or not muscular enough), occurs much more often in men.

Isobel O’Hare, a poet, essayist and the author of “All This Can Be Yours,” first experienced BDD around the time she hit puberty, long after being diagnosed with OCD.

O’Hare’s experience with BDD in comorbidity with OCD is quite common — even more so than the comorbidity of BDD with eating disorders.

“BDD is included in the DSM-5 under the section, ‘Obsessive – Compulsive and Related Disorders’ which also includes hoarding disorder, trichotillomania (hair pulling) and excoriation (skin picking) rather than the ‘Feeding and Eating Disorders’ section where diagnoses like anorexia and bulimia are located,” notes Bethany Kregiel, a clinician at Walden Behavioral Care residential program.

Dr. Craigen adds that while eating disorders can occur in relation to BDD, and that some people meet the criteria for both, “the more common disorders are OCD and related disorders, and you are at higher risk for developing BDD if you have a first degree relative with OCD.”

If you think you have BDD or any other disorder, the first thing you should do is consult a licensed mental health professional.

“A common way to treat are BDD is with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), of which I am a big fan,” says Dr. Manly.

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