Body Dysmorphic Disorder

What is body dysmorphic disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an anxiety disorder that causes the person to have a distorted view of how they look and to spend a lot of time worrying about their appearance. This could be focused on any aspect of their face or body. Having BDD does not mean that the person is vain or self-obsessed.
consultation taking notes

What are the symptoms of BDD?

  • Constantly comparing your appearance to other people’s
  • Spending a lot of time in front of the mirror or at other times avoiding mirrors altogether
  • Spending a lot of time concealing what is seen to be a defect
  • Becoming distressed by a particular area of your body (or face)
  • Feeling anxious when around other people and avoiding social situations
  • Being overly worried about asking for help out of fear you’ll be seen as vain or self obsessed
  • Seeking treatment for the perceived “defect” e.g. cosmetic surgery
  • Excessive dieting and exercise


Although BDD is not the same as OCD, there are some similarities, such as the repetition of compulsive behaviours. BDD can also lead to depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Frequently asked questions

If you find yourself developing intensely negative feelings towards your body, this can be a good indication that it’s time to seek support. You may already be aware that the way you see your body is distorted but still get preoccupied with body checks in front of the mirror.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Schema Therapy are generally the most effective therapeutic approaches for body dysmorphic disorder. Sometimes mindfulness techniques can also be helpful, alongside DBT skills.

Mindfulness techniques can be helpful to draw upon in moments that you’re feeling triggered and experiencing intensely negative feelings about your body. Breathing techniques can also help, as well as developing the capacity to act opposite to the urge to check your body, instead sitting with the anxiety until it subsides.

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Athena Lazaridou

Athena is a Pilates instructor with 8 years’ experience in the field. After completing a Power Pilates Mat Certification in Athens, she went on to complete the Full Comprehensive Classical Pilates Certification with Equinox in Kensington.  She has been teaching Pilates at Equinox for the past 6 years in addition to her own private clients who she trains both face to face and virtually.

Athena has a passion for helping people get stronger and fitter as well as helping those recovering from injury regain their strength and mobility.  Over the years, she has worked with athletes to incorporate Pilates into their training and improve performance. Athena has also worked with prenatal and postnatal women who may be experiencing depression or other mental health difficulties and used Pilates to facilitate a positive impact on their mental health.

Athena is very passionate about improving physical and mental well-being and has recently incorporated Sound Healing into her work, as she believes it to be one of the best ways of ‘letting go’ and releasing stale energy whilst increasing greater self-awareness.