Body dysmorphic disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder is when worries about your appearance disrupt daily activities.

5 min

On this page

Spectacles Icon

Medically reviewed by

Dr Scott Griffiths

What is body dysmorphic disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), sometimes called body dysmorphia, is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

People with BDD have a preoccupation with some aspect of their appearance (that nobody else may notice), which distracts them so much that they often can’t go about their normal daily activities.

Muscle dysmorphia is a form of BDD. People with muscle dysmorphia think their muscles are too small, even if they’re quite muscular. They might have obsessive dietary and exercise behaviours that dominate their day-to-day lives.

BDD affects around 1 in 50 adults. It usually begins during the teenage years and gradually gets more severe. BDD is just as common in males as in females, although muscle dysmorphia usually only occurs in males.

Symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder

Lots of people with BDD don’t realise they have it.

Causes of body dysmorphic disorder

We don’t fully understand why some people get BDD and some don’t, but genetic, psychological and social factors probably all contribute.

BDD is more likely than usual to occur in people who have a mother, father, sister or brother with the disorder, who have experienced childhood trauma, or who are from minority groups.

Diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder

Most people with BDD don’t get diagnosed, often because they don’t realise they have a problem.

Treatment of body dysmorphic disorder

The behaviours associated with BDD can be reduced by seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist for cognitive behavioural therapy, sometimes in combination with medication.

Getting cosmetic treatment for the part of your body that worries you will most likely not relieve your concerns.

Health effects of body dysmorphic disorder

BDD can last your whole life, and the psychological effects it has during your teenage years can have lasting consequences for how you think and act.

Males with BDD are more likely than normal to have anxiety, depression, emotional and behavioural problems, relationship troubles, hyperactivity and low quality of life.

When these problems occur during your teenage years, they can have long-term consequences for your social, romantic, educational and working life.

What to do about body dysmorphic disorder

Listen to the people who are close to you if they tell you they are concerned about you. It might be worth seeing a doctor to rule out the condition, rather than living with a problem you can’t see, that could be treated.

Questions to ask your doctor about body dysmorphic disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder

Did you find this page helpful?

Information provided on this website is not a substitute for medical advice

Call 000 for emergency services

If you or someone you know needs urgent medical attention.

Call MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78 for 24/7 support

MensLine Australia is a telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns.

Sign up to our newsletter

We release two monthly newsletters – one written for men, family and friends, and another for health practitioners.

Your preferred mailing list

Your name

Your email

Stay up to date


Healthy Male acknowledges the traditional owners of the land. We pay our respects to elders past, present and future. We are committed to providing respectful, inclusive services and work environments where all individuals feel accepted, safe, affirmed and celebrated.


Healthy Male is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. This website does not host any form of advertisement. Information provided on this website is not a substitute for medical advice.

Trusted information partner of