Harvard Mental Health Letter

Ask the doctor: Why are patients with body dysmorphic disorder so self-critical?

Q. I have a friend who was diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder. What is this disorder and what causes it?

A. Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a type of anxiety disorder. Those affected focus on physical flaws that other people may not notice. We don't yet know what causes BDD, but like other psychiatric disorders, it probably results from a combination of inborn biology and environmental factors.

A brain imaging study has provided a new clue. The study found that the visual processing centers in the brains of patients with BDD function differently from those of controls.

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