More threads by incognito


HI there...I'm new here and I'm glad I found this site..and that it's based in ontario! I will probably hang around here for my own issues, but right now, I would like some advice on how best to support someone w/ BDD.

He is my best friend, and we've known each other for almost 2 yrs, he lives a couple hrs from me so we don't see each other often, but we spend hours together every day on the phone and the internet. Getting to know each other has been a trial let me tell you, I have ADD and also been diagosed w/ depression and a side of social anxiety. I have suspected he may have something like OCPD, but of course, I am in no position to diagnose. Because of my own issues, and the issues he has...we have had some very emotional times mostly due to not understanding each other's issues and how best to support each other. We have finally come to a point where supporting each other is more important than being right. Soooo, after my long drawn out intro....

He does have BDD. He was very skinny growing up, and got teased a lot because he's very tall. In university he was treated w/ meds for anxiety...which still creeps up occasionally, but I think he can control his reactions for the most part, he doesn't need meds anymore at least. He is now very big, he works out, but it is NOT excessive and he does not have an eating disorder. He just does not think his body is good enough. It's not all the time. He has good days and great days, but the bad ones are there too. And on some level he knows he has an amazing body, and is ok w/ showing it in certain situations. He might even be a bit of an exhibitionist at times. But in certain situations...i.e. w/ me, on a personal level, because he cares about me a great deal, and what I think of him, he just is not able to let me see any part of him. He thinks he's going to disappoint me, and that I don't find his body attractive. And then....after a little progress (of his own doing...I've never pressured him) and he did let me see some of his body...he just ended up feeling bad about himself afterward because he thought he didn't look good enough, despite knowing that I didn't feel that way. And he was actually more ashamed and upset w/ himself because he was feeling so shy and not good enough in the first place.

Anyway...sorry this is long...I need to know how best to help him through those periods when he's down. I know that me telling him he looks good isn't going to change his own thoughts about himself. I just want to be there for him and NOT have it end up in an arguement. I used to get frustrated because nothing I said ever helped. I am getting much better but really want to do more if I can.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Sorry... it's been a hectic week and I missed your post somehow.

BDD = body dysmorphic disorder, I assume?

I'm not sure what to say here, or even specifically what you are asking. I realize you want to help your friend but you can't be his therapist. Does he have one? Is he talking to anyone except you about this? If not, that should probably be the first thing to suggest to him -- that his views about his appearance aren't realistic and that a counsellor or therapist can help him with those distorted perceptions.

The thing is you are his friend. You can't be his friend and his therapist at the same time -- just one or the other -- and my guess is that he'd rather keep you as a friend.


Thanks for replying :)

No...I just want to be his friend. I have done research and know that just telling him he looks great isn't going to work. I know what not to say...but I don't know what to say...if that makes sense. I just want to help him through his freakouts w/o making things worse. He always helps me out through all my freakouts, but I don't seem to be so good at it like he is. I talked about seeing a therapists once..didn't go over so well.


I sometimes find that no matter how much you say to a person or talk to them about this or that issue, it doesn't seem to be getting through. but what you have to remember is that you're not there to say all the right things or be his therapist as David said, but as a friend you're doing more than enough w/ just listening.
just telling him he looks great isn't going to work. I know what not to say...but I don't know what to say...
imagine this: you're really upset at something and someone comes up to you and says "everything is ok"- you know it's not so even though objectively and in the future things will be ok it doesn't help hearing so right there at this moment. you knows just telling your friend his body is good won't help him alone, but it is verbal encouragement, so it's not a bad thing to say. if you don't know what to say, just sit there and listen. trust me it can mean so much more than saying random things and not giving the person a chance to talk. if they want your opinion they'll probably say so.
also you said he has BDD. makes sense w/ his previous history that you described. have you ever heard of "muscle dysmorphobia" though? I don't know if it relates at all but basically it's like a reverse men who are obessed w/ their bodies but where as women strive to be thin men strive to be muscular...hence the muscle dysmorphobia. Men who are muscular still see themselves as skinny and not strong, thus this could explain your friend not wanting to show you his body.

if he's there for you when you need him to be there, all you can do is the same for him. let him know how much it means to you that he is there for you and that you will always be there for him. a lot of people are reluctant to see a could try finding a few contact #'s for therapists, counsellors etc and give them to him- that way he has them if he chooses to go but it's up to him and he doesn't need to let you know. also, maybe try doing activities that bring you guys together but that don't focus on the perfect body instead of going to tan at the beach or playing competitive sports just go for a walk or go to an exhibition, concert etc...something that takes his mind off of this.
Hi there,

I am sorry that your friend is going through this. I personally know how it feels. I suffer from BDD and I realize how stressful this must be for you. As some of the other replies noted, it doesn't matter what positive things you say to him. It goes in one ear and out the other. Most BDD sufferers are constantly seeking reassurance with hopes to decrease their anxiety. Like Dr. Baxter said the best thing to do is help him find a specialist. You could call psychiatric hospitals in his area and see if they know of any therapists that are familiar with BDD. Or get him to tell his physician that he would like to be referred to a psychiatrist.

Hope this helps, there is help for him out there but he needs to take the first step.

dancing dixie
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