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Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

Provides some suggestions on how to help yourself if you have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

What can I do to help myself?

Treatment of BDD often includes a combination of strategies, including self-help. Below are some ideas you could try to help you manage your BDD:

Use self-help materials

Many people find self-help materials, such as books or computer programs, useful in managing their BDD.

Self-help materials are often based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which have been shown to be particularly effective in treating BDD. Making small steps to accept but challenge your worries can reduce your compulsive behaviours.

You may decide to use self-help materials alongside professional help, or you may use them to develop your own coping strategies. You can find self-help resources for BDD on the following websites:

Several self-help programmes are available for free via computer or via prescription from your GP. See the NHS self-help therapies page for more information on these.

Do things to improve your self-esteem

  • Celebrate your successes. No matter how small they may seem, take time to praise yourself and notice what you did well. It could also help to remember past successes.
  • Accept compliments. You could make a note of them to look over when you're feeling low or doubting yourself.
  • Ask people what they like about you. It's likely that they see you differently to how you see yourself.
  • Write a list of things you like about yourself. For example, you could include character traits, skills or experience, beliefs or causes that matter to you, or things you enjoy doing. You could ask other people for suggestions too.

Try support groups

Support groups and peer support offer an opportunity to meet other people who also have BDD and to be part of a support network that understands what you're going through. Hearing about how other people have coped with similar feelings and experiences can make you feel less isolated.

You can find details of support groups for BDD on the following websites:

Or contact Mind's Infoline or a local Mind to see what support there is in your area.

You can also access peer support online. Communities like Mind's Side by Side can be a good way of getting support at times when you don't feel like seeing people face-to-face or if there aren't any groups nearby.

Look after yourself

Taking time to look after yourself physically and emotionally can help support your recovery and improve your quality of life.

  • Try to get enough sleep. Getting too little or too much sleep can have a big impact on how you feel. See our pages on coping with sleep problems for more information.
  • Think about your diet. Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can make a difference to your mood and energy levels. See our pages on food and mood for more information.
  • Try to do some physical activity. Exercise can be really helpful for your mental wellbeing and some people find it helps improve their self-esteem. See our pages on physical activity for more information.
  • Spend time outside. Spending time in green space can help your wellbeing. See our pages on nature and mental health for more information.
  • Try to avoid recreational drugs and alcohol. While you might want to use recreational drugs or alcohol to cope with difficult feelings about yourself, in the long run they can make you feel worse and can prevent you from dealing with underlying problems. See our pages on recreational drugs and alcohol for more information.

For more information about looking after yourself see our pages on improving your wellbeing, self-care for anxiety and tips for improving your self-esteem.

This information was published in July 2022. We'll revise it in 2025.

References and bibliography available on request.

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