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How to Help Someone With Body Dysmorphia


If you noticed the signs of body dysmorphia in a loved one or if they’ve shared their diagnosis with you, you might be at a loss for words. Especially if you don’t know much about this disorder, you may not have any idea of how to help someone with body dysmorphia. Formally known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), body dysmorphia is a mental health disorder in which the person can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived flaws or defects in their appearance. BDD is linked to eating disorders because it impacts a person’s perception of their appearance. If you have a loved one with BDD, here are some things to help with body dysmorphia recovery that you can do for them.

Tips on How to Help Someone With Body Dysmorphia 

When someone has body dysmorphia, they may obsess over their appearance for hours or even days at a time. They might sit in front of a mirror and nit-pick at their face or body, pointing out various perceived flaws. Without support, body dysmorphia can get out of control, leading to changes in behavior, low mood, avoidance of social situations, and even eating disorders. 

Like other mental health conditions, coping with body dysmorphia often requires the support of family, spouses, and friends. With that said, below are some tips on how to comfort someone with body dysmorphia and help them in their recovery. 

  • Accept and validate their feelings: Oftentimes, people who have never personally experienced mental illness struggle to be understanding or accepting of someone else’s mental health struggles. As you can imagine, approaching someone’s mental illness with doubt or dismissiveness can be extremely hurtful. Instead, do your best to try and understand how the person feels. Researching the disorder can also help you better understand how it affects people and how to help someone with body dysmorphia more effectively. 
  • Be a soft place to land: It can be difficult for someone to share their mental health struggles with others. What’s more, many people with body dysmorphia are met with stigma and stereotypes related to vanity and self-absorption, but this isn’t true. Always keep this in mind and try to give this person a shoulder to cry on or a safe space where they can vent.
  • Don’t talk about their appearance: A common trait of body dysmorphia is reassurance about one’s appearance. Considering that this disorder is focused on a person’s perception of their appearance, steer clear of this conversation whenever possible. 
  • Avoid talking about your flaws: Oftentimes, we attempt to make another person feel better about their struggles by mentioning our own, but this can be harmful when helping someone with body dysmorphia. In your attempt to help the person, you might bring up more flaws or struggles for them to ruminate on. 
  • Encourage them to get treatment: You can practice all the tips in the world, but the best way to help someone with body dysmorphia is to get them professional treatment. Our Philadelphia eating disorder clinic offers body dysmorphic disorder treatment that utilizes evidence-based therapy that can help your loved one regain control of their life. 

Eating Disorder Treatment 

Unfortunately, it can be 10 years or longer before a diagnosis is made or treatment is suggested and provided for people with body dysmorphia. During this time, it’s common for people with BDD to develop eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, the former of which is the deadliest of mental illnesses. 

If you or someone you care about is struggling with an eating disorder like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or others, Banyan Treatment Centers offers Philadelphia eating disorder treatment that can make recovery possible.

Don’t wait any longer to reach out for help. Call Banyan Philadelphia today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our eating disorder programs


Related Reading:

Celebrities With Body Dysmorphia

Body Dysmorphic Disorder Awareness Day

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
How to Help Someone With Body Dysmorphia
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