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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Dr Elena Touroni

Dr Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced consultant psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector.

Having obtained a first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the American College of Greece, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Surrey. Dr Touroni is highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, adjustment disorder and relationship difficulties. She works with both individuals and couples and can offer therapy in English and Greek.

Dr Touroni has held a variety of clinical and managerial positions including as Head of Service in the NHS. Further she has held academic positions for the University of Surrey and the Institute of Mental Health lecturing on specialist postgraduate Masters and Doctorate programmes.

She is trained in several specialist therapeutic approaches such as schema therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based approaches and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). As well as holding a variety of NHS positions, Dr. Touroni is the co-founder of a private practice in Central London that has been a provider of psychological therapy for all common emotional difficulties including personality disorder since 2002. She is the founder and one of two directors of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.