LEIGH DE VRIES - Visual Artist, Mental Health Advocate, Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder



BDD is a disabling preoccupation with 
perceived defects or flaws in appearance. 


Are you worried about how you look?

BDD is characterised by a preoccupation with one or more perceived defects or flaws in appearance, which is unnoticeable to others. Sometimes the flaw is noticeable but is a normal variation (e.g. male pattern baldness) or is not as prominent as the sufferer believes. 

The older term for BDD is “dysmorphophobia”, which is sometimes still used. The media sometimes refer to BDD as “Imagined Ugliness Syndrome”. This isn’t particularly helpful as the ugliness is very real to the individual concerned, and does not reflect the severe distress that BDD can cause. 

As well as the excessive self-consciousness, individuals with BDD often feel defined by their flaw. They often experience an image of their perceived defect associated with memories, emotions and bodily sensations – as if seeing the flaw through the eyes of an onlooker, even though what they ‘see’ may be very different to their appearance observed by others.






BDD most often develops in adolescents and teens, and research shows that it affects men and women almost equally. In the United States, BDD occurs in about 2.5% in males, and in 2.2 % of females. BDD often begins to occur in adolescents 12-13 years of age (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).


Suicide Attempts

BDD typically follows a chronic course1 and is associated with marked functional impairment across multiple domains. Among adults, BDD results in high rates of occupational impairment, unemployment, social dysfunction and social isolation.2 Similarly, BDD in youth is associated with major functional impairment, including reduced academic performance, social withdrawal and dropping out of school.3 High comorbidity, for example with major depressive disorder, social anxiety disorder and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), is frequently reported. BDD has also been associated with strikingly high rates of suicidality; reported rates of suicidal ideation range from 17%–77%, while rates of suicide attempts range from 3%–63%.4

* See index below for references1,2,3,4

How much time A Day do you spend worrying about your appearance?


BDD Foundation

The BDD Foundation aims to increase awareness and understanding of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), taking the focus away from current stigmas that can perceive BDD as narcissistic, self-indulgent or purely a result of modern Western ideals. 

Learn More


the bdd foundation features ‘exposure’ at london conference.

The BDD Foundation hosted their first ever conference in London on the 30th May 2015, aimed exclusively at people with BDD and their families’. Exposure’ was shown included in the day and played to the audience as a short film.



1.↵ Phillips KA , Didie ER , Menard W , et al . Clinical features of body dysmorphic disorder in adolescents and adults. Google Scholar

2.↵ Phillips KA , Menard W , Quinn E , et al . A 4-year prospective observational follow-up study of course and predictors of course in body dysmorphic disorder. Google Scholar

3.↵ Mataix-Cols D , Fernández de la Cruz L , Isomura K , et al . A pilot randomized controlled trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy for adolescents with body dysmorphic disorder. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry Google Scholar

4.↵ Angelakis I , Gooding PA , Panagioti M . Suicidality in body dysmorphic disorder (BDD): a systematic review with meta-analysis. Clin Psychol Rev Google Scholar