Many of us get anxious about what looks back at us when we stare into the mirror each morning.

But if these feelings get in the way of our everyday life, we may be living with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

You may have obsessive worries about perceived flaws in your appearance that nobody else can make out, or you see these features as much more pronounced than other people do.

Alternatively, you may have compulsive behaviours, such as constantly looking in the mirror or picking your skin.

These actions can cause us distress and make normal events like getting dressed, going out with friends or eating difficult, so it's important to look for support.

People with BDD have intrusive thoughts about their body being out of proporiton or disfigured in some way.

These feelings can cause compulsive behaviours including:

  • Checking your appearance in mirrors
  • Changing your posture
  • Picking your skin
  • Weighing yourself excessively
  • Exercising excessively
  • Using heavy make-up

If you feel you, or a family member or friend, might be suffering from BDD, there are treatments available to help.

Talking therapies, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), can help you link your thoughts, feeling and actions. CBT tries to change the way you react to situations by adjusting the way you think and behave with ‘coping skills’.

Sometimes it may be necessary to use medication to lessen your anxiety. You can see a list of medicines we might offer you on our Choice and Medication portal.

There are also specialist services for BDD should CBT not work.

You can also try self-care techniques. These may include:

  • Relaxation and breathing exercises
  • Speaking to someone you can trust
  • Eating healthily
  • Exercising regularly
  • Limiting your intake of caffeine and sugar
  • Accepting help from others

If you’re in a mental health crisis and need urgent help, call the Single Point of Access on (01472) 256256 and select option 3. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Alternatively, you can call NHS 111 free from a landline or mobile phone.

Open Minds offers a range of therapies aimed at helping you to deal with the effects of anxiety and should be your first port of call if you’re looking for support. You can self-refer to Open Minds online. Alternatively, you can visit your GP and ask to be referred.

Safespace provides instant support if you’re vulnerable and need assistance with your mental health out-of-hours. You can speak to the team using Zoom or by calling in via telephone, between 5.30pm and 11pm, Monday to Friday.

BDD Foundation: The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation lists lots of useful resources including books, videos and podcasts.

Orcha Apps Library: This library lists thousands of NHS-approved health apps by condition, making it quick and easy for you to find support.

Every Mind Matters: This Public Health England campaign shares hints and tips developed with experts and approved by the NHS.

Anxiety UK: The national charity gives lots of self-help advice and links to courses and groups that may be useful for you.

Five ways to wellbeing: The New Economics Foundation have developed these five steps to looking after your wellbeing.

Young Minds: Young Minds have lots of advice on how to build your confidence and boost your wellbeing.

OCD UK: BDD is closely linked to OCD and there are lots of self-help resources available here.