body dysmorphic disorder

The OCD and Related Disorders Program –
Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Related Disorders Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School is one of the few clinics in the United States, and the only clinic in Boston, specializing in the treatment and research of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

What is BDD?

BDD is a mental disorder characterized by a severe preoccupation with a perceived defect in one's appearance. Any body part can be the focus of concern. The most common areas of concern involve the face (e.g., nose, eyes, and chin), hair, and skin. Other body parts of concern include stomach, buttocks, teeth, weight, breasts, thighs, eyebrows, small body build, legs, lips, arms, hips, cheeks, and ears. Sufferers often describe themselves as hideous, deformed, or ugly when to others, they appear quite normal or even attractive. BDD usually begins in late childhood or early adolescence. It affects both men and women, regardless of age, ethnicity, and cultural background.

Contact Us

The OCD and Related Disorders Program
Massachusetts General Hospital
Simches Research Building
185 Cambridge Street, Suite 2000
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-726-6766
Maps & directions

Individuals with BDD often spend hours a day thinking or worrying about their appearance. In addition, most people with BDD engage in compulsive or ritualistic behaviors to reduce their distress or improve their appearance. Examples include frequently checking the mirror or going out of the way to avoid reflective surfaces, covering up the perceived defect with makeup or clothing, picking at slight imperfections in the skin, following a rigid grooming routine, or seeking cosmetic surgery (often multiple times).

BDD is NOT vanity. It is a serious and often debilitating condition. Individuals who suffer from BDD often experience severe depression, anxiety, and social isolation. Furthermore, their appearance concerns cause significant distress and impairment in daily functioning. Just getting up in the morning and going to school or work can be a daily challenge for BDD sufferers.

BDD is, unfortunately, an illness about which there is little awareness, limited research, and inadequate funding for treatment and research. Our program’s mission is to deliver evidence-based treatment to patients in need while simultaneously conducting research to advance our knowledge of the causes, consequences, and treatments for BDD. Together, we hope to improve the standard of care for people suffering from BDD and related disorders.


Our program specializes in providing evidence-based treatment for adults and adolescents with BDD. We offer both cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication in our clinic and in the context of research studies.

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