People with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa will of course worry about their body shape, size and/or weight, but many people also face another body image problem: body deformity.
Deformation disorders affect up to 2.4% of the general population, causing people to pay too much attention to appearance and perception defects.It may be seen in people with eating disorders, but this is a distinctly different problem.
Symptoms of body deformity
People with body dysmorphic disorders will focus on or indulge in one or more appearance defects. This concentration or obsession usually focuses on one or more body parts or features, such as their skin, hair, or nose. However, any body part or part can be the subject of concern.
This Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) outlines the diagnostic criteria for body deformity. BDD is not classified as an eating disorder in DSM-5. Instead, it is listed under the category of “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Related Disorders.” DSM-5 lists the following diagnostic criteria:
- Focus on one or more perceivable cosmetic defects that others will not notice and are not truly disfigured.
- At some point, the suffering person will make repetitive actions or thoughts in response to these concerns. This may be similar to constantly comparing their appearance with the appearance of other people, mirror inspections, or skin picking.
- This obsession can bring pain and problems to a person’s social, work, or other areas of life.
- This obsession cannot be better explained as symptoms of an eating disorder (although some people may be diagnosed with both).
Muscle deformities or thinking that your muscles are too small are considered a subtype of body deformity.
Relationship with eating disorders
BDD and eating disorders have some common characteristics, but there are also important differences between them. Some similarities include:
- People with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, and people with somatic dysmorphia may be overly concerned about their size, shape, weight, or appearance.
- Those with somatic deformity may even look at certain parts of their body that are similar to the gaze points seen in anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, such as the waist, buttocks, and/or thighs.
- They may also experience similar symptoms, such as physical examinations (such as frequent weighings or mirror “checks”) and excessive exercise.
Researchers estimate that as many as 12% of patients with somatic dysmorphia also suffer from anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.of
However, it should be noted that not all people with body deformity have eating disorders. Some people with physical deformity only focus on specific body parts (such as the shape of the nose). This is different from focusing on weight.
A comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional (such as a therapist or psychiatrist) can help determine whether someone has an eating disorder, a body deformity, or both.
The good news is that body dysmorphia can be successfully treated. The most effective treatment options include combining a psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy with medications including antidepressants.of
Multiple diagnoses are involved at any time (this is true for anyone who suffers from both a physical deformity and an eating disorder), and it can complicate treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also used to treat eating disorders.
If you have both conditions, you need to make sure that your therapist is familiar with both conditions and can develop a customized treatment plan for you.
You may also be interested in seeking medical treatment through your psychiatrist. It is important to remember that you may need to try different drugs or dosages before you can find the right medicine for you. Always follow the doctor’s advice on medications and don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have about them.
It is important to note that many patients with physical deformity seek surgical treatment options, such as plastic surgery or hair transplants, to “repair” the defects they perceive. There is no evidence that this helps treat the condition, and may actually make the condition worse.