What is Reverse Body Dysmorphic Disorder & How to Treat it?

In this blog, we will answer “What is Reverse Body Dysmorphic Disorder & How to Treat It?”, and also cover what is reverse body dysmorphic disorder, its effects, its history, symptoms of reverse body dysmorphic disorder, and its treatment. 

What is Reverse Body Dysmorphic Disorder & How to Treat it?

Reverse Body Dysmorphic disorder is the exact opposite of Body dysmorphic disorder, it is a belief that one is thin but lives in a bigger body. This can be difficult to navigate through and we will cover it later on but first, let us understand it better.

What is Body Dysmorphia (BDD)?

Body dysmorphia is a mental illness characterized by obsessive thinking about perceived flaws in one’s physical appearance. The person with BDD may be tormented by these self-identified defects, but they are usually modest, if not altogether undetectable to others. 

We’ll go through BDD in-depth in this post, including its history and short- and long-term impacts. There are different types of body dysmorphia, one of which is reverse body dysmorphic disorder. 

History of Body Dysmorphia

Body dysmorphia has a long and complicated history. Much of what is known today about BDD is thanks to the work of Dr. Jules Angst, a psychiatrist and obsession expert who studied the disorder in the 1960s. 

Dr. Angst coined the term “body dysmorphia” to describe the pathological preoccupation with an imagined or minor physical defect. He believed that BDD was an anxiety disorder, and proposed a set of diagnostic criteria that included the preoccupation with a physical defect and at least some impairment in daily life as a result of the preoccupation.

The word body dysmorphia has been used to describe a variety of different conditions. The term originally referred to a mental disorder characterized by an obsession with one’s own body. Today, however, the word is often used to describe a variety of different behaviors and attitudes related to one’s appearance.

In the early 20th century, the term “dysmorphophobia” was introduced to describe the fear of bodily imperfections. By the end of the 20th century, “body dysmorphia” had largely replaced “dysmorphophobia” in the psychological literature.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several notable women, such as suffragist Susan B. Anthony and abolitionist Sojourner Truth were noted for their physical appearance and public speaking skills. 

And in more recent times, actresses Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet, and Jennifer Aniston have received much attention for their physical appearances, which often function as a form of self-promotion.

Effects of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

BDD can manifest in different ways. Some people may spend hours each day looking at their reflection in the mirror or peer into the distance, convinced that they’re ugly or imperfect.

For some, BDD can be a debilitating condition. But there are ways to deal with body image issues and improve your mental health in general.

The most common form of body dysmorphia involves obsessive, debilitating thoughts or images about one’s appearance. 

Common examples include excessive concern with imperfections, such as blemishes, cellulite, or stretch marks; compulsive mirror-checking; or intense scrutiny of one’s body in clothing or other reflective surfaces.

In severe cases, a person with body dysmorphia may become so preoccupied with a perceived flaw that it interferes with daily functioning and causes significant distress. This type of body dysmorphia is sometimes referred to as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

The body is a complex and fascinating thing, and anyone who spends time looking at themselves in the mirror or a mirror may notice a few imperfections here and there. 

But for some people, these minor flaws become the focus of obsessive thoughts and behaviours, to the point where they feel like they’re hideous or grotesque. BDD can affect anyone, regardless of gender, race, age, or physical appearance.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and mental health

The intense preoccupation with perceived defects in the body can have a significant impact on the person’s mental and physical health. Many people with reverse BDD symptoms report experiencing depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. 

The repetitive behaviors associated with BDD can also cause significant damage to the skin and other parts of the body, which can lead to painful fractures and other medical conditions. For example, people with reverse BDD have been known to repeatedly pick at their skin, which can result in permanent damage to the tissue.

Symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder

  • Excessive exercising: The sufferer will often spend at least an hour exercising every day, often on separate days of the week
  • Excessive grooming: The sufferer may spend a large portion of their day, or even their entire day, grooming their appearance. This can include hair grooming, applying makeup, and/or skincare regimen, as well as the removal of hair from various parts of the body.
  • Excessively concerned about their body: The sufferer often spends a large amount of time focusing on their body. The sufferer may think about everything from the size of their nose to the color of their teeth.
  • The sufferer may spend a large portion of their life in front of the mirror, taking extreme care with their appearance. The sufferer may be obsessed with the idea that they are ugly or imperfect.
  • The sufferer may have a hard time doing things they usually enjoy, such as playing sports, dancing, or even engaging in social activities. 
  • Focusing on the Past: People with body dysmorphia may obsess about their past. They may focus on things they did or that they didn’t do that they think caused their appearance to be the way it is.
  • Overeating:  Individuals with body dysmorphia may overeat or eat in a way that causes emotional and psychological distress, as well as physical complications.
  • The sufferer may also focus excessively on food and eating, often to the point of becoming obese or causing emotional and psychological distress. 

Types of BDD

  • Reverse Body Dysmorphic Disorder is the disorder that is the polar opposite of Body dysmorphic disorder as people with this condition feel that they are thin people living in a bigger body.
  • Muscle dysmorphia is another condition associated with body dysmorphia and a person with this condition has a faulty perception of their muscles and view themselves as weak despite having large muscles.

What is Reverse Body Dysmorphic Disorder (RBDD)?

Reverse Body dysmorphic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by an obsession about a perceived defect or flaw in one’s appearance. Onset typically occurs during adolescence or early adulthood, although it is not uncommon for the symptoms to develop later in life. 

RBDD can range in seriousness from mild to severe, but in most cases, the individual experiences significant distress and impairment in his or her social, occupational, and/or other important functioning due to his or her preoccupation. 

As a result, those suffering from RBDD often avoid situations or places where they are likely to be observed or evaluated by others, which can lead to significant difficulty in daily life. BDD is an obsessive preoccupation with a perceived defect or flaw in appearance. 

An individual with BDD will often spend a great deal of time and energy trying to improve perceived imperfections or flaws in their appearance. Sometimes, these efforts will be so extreme that they become potentially dangerous or even life-threatening. 

But while BDD is often associated with images of gaunt, skeletal celebrities, and runway models, it can also affect those of average build and appearance…

Jennifer Lawrence talked about having Reverse Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Jennifer Lawrence has talked about not being very pleased with the way she looks and how her body looks in the mirror. She talked about how editors often slim her face and touch-up her photos.

She said that she has reverse body dysmorhpic disorder and people should see what she looks like in her mind. 

Treatment of body dysmorphia related disorders


SSRI antidepressants, which are commonly used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, help treat body dysmorphia by negating obsessive thoughts. One of the common side effects of SSRI antidepressants is body dysmorphia, which is why they are also used to treat body dysmorphia as both conditions have similar characteristics.

The most common SSRI drugs prescribed for body dysmorphia include:

  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Luvox (fluvoxamine)
  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Anafranil (clomipramine)


There are currently two types of treatment commonly prescribed to individuals with body dysmorphia, medications, and psychotherapy. Studies show that cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment option, and SSRI antidepressants can be effective in a 12-week regimen.

Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is an effective treatment for body dysmorphic disorder. The goal of CBT for body dysmorphic disorder is to teach the sufferer to identify and change the negative beliefs and thoughts that lead to the disorder. 

This can be accomplished through psychoeducation, which is the education of the client on their disorder and the methods of treatment, and through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is the application of CBT to the client’s disorder. 

The CBT used in the treatment of body dysmorphic disorder is similar to the CBT used in the treatment of other disorders, such as OCD.

The goal of CBT is not to “fix” the body dysmorphic disorder, but to help the sufferer learn to accept their thoughts about themselves and their bodies and love their body as it is. CBT is often effective in treating body dysmorphic disorder, but it can take time and a lot of hard work.


Tips to deal with reverse body dysmorphic disorder

  • Journal about your day and condition
  • Take support from your loved ones
  • Go for psychotherapy regularly
  • Take your medications timely
  • Join support groups for people with similar issues
  • Utilize relaxation techniques
  • Manage your stress effectively


We discussed body dysmorphic disorder, its sympotms, causes, and treatments, and we also talked about reverse body dysmorphic disorders and how it is the opposite of BDD.

Frequently Asked Questions: What is Reverse Body Dysmorphic Disorder & How to Treat it?

Why do I see myself skinnier than I am?

Researchers at Western Australia University have discovered that a psychological illusion can make you think that you are thinner than you are, as the brain joins past and present experiences, so it creates an illusion whereby we look thinner than we are.

Can Body Dysmorphia be overcome?

The most basic treatment involves a combination of Psychotherapy and medication. CBT is a better solution.

Can body dymorphia be reversed?

There is no absolute cure for body dysmorphic disorder but medications and psychotherapy can be very helpful for people by managing their symptoms and helping them lead better lives. 

What is reverse anorexia?

Reverse anorexia is a kind of BDD in men and women that can lead to physical and emotional results. National eating disorders awareness week is celebrated from Feb 22-28 each year to spread knowledge about eating disorders.

Why do I think I am slimmer than I am?

If you feel that you are slimmer than you actually are, you might be suffering from a condition known as reverse body dysmorphic disorder and you should seek professional help.

Can BDD ever go away?

No, BDD does not go away or get better on its own but it needs to be treated with professional help and guidance. It can cause a lot of stress, get worse with time, cause anxiety, etc. 



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