BDD is believed to be caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. These contributing factors vary from person to person, but examples include genetic predisposition, trauma from mental or physical abuse, emotional neglect, or unhealthy relationships with family members or peers during early childhood. Each of these factors can play a role in influencing one’s body image. Furthermore, current research suggests that visual processing abnormalities and differences in brain structure may also play a role in the development of BDD in certain individuals.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is more common than was once thought. It affects approximately 1-2 percent of the general population and does not discriminate against age, ethnicity, or cultural background. Both men and women are subject to BDD, although some characteristics are primarily gender-specific. For example, while the most common BDD obsessions are related to facial appearance, many female sufferers are also troubled with body proportion issues. Muscle dysmorphia, on the other hand, mainly affects men who believe their muscles and/or overall body size appears too small. As a result, men who suffer with muscle dysmorphia may engage in excessive exercise or may abuse dangerous body building supplements.