Body dysmorphic disorder

body dysmorphic disorder and skin picking


Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a condition where someone becomes preoccupied with a perceived or real defect of appearance. The fixation on the defect often leads to repetitive behaviors aimed to correct it. The thought of the abnormality causes severe distress and functional impairment. 

Most people with BDD are normal or exceptionally good looking. Others perceive the flaws of attention as inconsequential, however the person with BDD cannot recognize or minimize the perceived seriousness of it. 

Skin picking and BDD often get confused during diagnostic assessment because many people with BDD pick at their skin to remove perceived imperfections. The pivotal difference between the two is that in BDD, the cause of picking is the perception of defects and picking is a means to remove the defect or imperfection. In compulsive skin picking, the behavior is the focus of the disorder. The two disorders share additional symptoms including: 

  • Preoccupied with appearance
  • Overly concerned how others judge their appearance
  • Repetitive mirror checking
  • Compulsive skin-touching, to measure or feel the perceived defect
  • Social withdrawal
  • High levels of self-consciousness, 
  • Repetitive grooming behaviors
  • Constant mental comparisons about appearance

Approximately 1.9% of the population experience BDD, yet 73% of those with BDD target the skin. Although treatment interventions include medications and cognitive-behavioral therapy, the completed suicide rates in people with BDD is 45 times higher than in the general population of the United States.

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