Body dysmorphia, also known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), is a mental health disorder that affects individuals’ perception of their physical appearance. People with BDD are preoccupied with their perceived flaws, and this can lead to severe distress and impairment in their daily life. Studies have shown that there is a strong connection between BDD and eating disorders, with many individuals who have an eating disorder also struggling with BDD. In this blog post, we will explore the connection between eating disorders and BDD, and provide tips for those who are struggling with both.
Understanding Body Dysmorphia
Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health disorder that affects approximately 1.7% to 2.9% of the general population. It is characterized by a preoccupation with one or more perceived flaws or defects in one’s physical appearance that are not noticeable to others or are only slight. People with BDD may spend hours a day trying to hide or fix their perceived flaws, and this can lead to significant distress and impairment in their daily life.
The Connection Between Eating Disorders and Body Dysmorphia
Research has shown that there is a strong connection between BDD and eating disorders. In fact, studies have found that up to 38% of individuals with an eating disorder also have BDD. Individuals with anorexia nervosa, in particular, have a higher risk of developing BDD, with up to 67% of individuals with anorexia nervosa also struggling with BDD.
One reason for the connection between eating disorders and BDD is that both disorders are characterized by a preoccupation with one’s body image. Individuals with an eating disorder may restrict their food intake or engage in purging behaviors in an attempt to achieve a certain body shape or weight. Similarly, individuals with BDD may engage in behaviors such as excessive grooming, skin picking, or cosmetic procedures in an attempt to fix their perceived flaws. Both disorders can lead to significant distress and impairment in daily life, and individuals
with both disorders may struggle to maintain healthy relationships, hold down a job, or engage in social activities.
Tips for Those Struggling with Both Eating Disorders and Body Dysmorphia
If you are struggling with both an eating disorder and BDD, it’s important to seek professional help from a qualified mental health provider. Treatment for BDD may involve a combination of medication and psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can help individuals with BDD to challenge their negative thoughts about their appearance and develop more realistic perceptions of their physical appearance.
In addition to seeking professional help, there are several things you can do on your own to manage symptoms of both disorders. One important step is to challenge negative self-talk and practice self-compassion. Instead of focusing on your perceived flaws, try to focus on your positive qualities and achievements. You may also find it helpful to practice mindfulness or relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to reduce stress and anxiety.
Another important step is to build a support network of family, friends, and loved ones who can offer encouragement and understanding. You may also find it helpful to connect with others who have similar experiences, such as through online support groups or local support groups for eating disorders or BDD.
Help & Hope is Available
If you’re suffering from an eating disorder and are looking for a residential treatment option, Avalon Hills offers unmatched care to help our patients find recovery and live a full life. To speak with one of our admissions specialists, please click here.