Body Dysmorphia And Eating Disorders

So Whats The Difference Between An Eating Disorder And Bdd

Muscle Dysmorphia The Male Eating Disorder | Scott Griffiths | TEDxSydney

What I didnt share in my story above is a point that illuminates one key difference between eating disorders and BDD:

After my depressing experience in front of the mirror, I refused to eat that day.

This is an important difference between an individual struggling with an eating disorder and someone with BDD. To be diagnosed with an eating disorder , eating must be impaired.

Also, compared to BDD, which tends to be focused more on a specific part of the body like ones nose or hairline, the preoccupation with the body in an eating disorder is more generalized to shape and weight concerns.

Dont get me wrong: for a long time while I struggled with an eating disorder, I didnt like my nose, and I hated the blemishes on my chin. But these things never kept me from engaging in life. Concerns about my shape and weight are what kept me from engaging.

Above, I did describe an obsession with a specific body part: my thighs. Yet, importantly, this preoccupation with the thigh gap was a part of my larger concern about shape and weight.

A Negative Body Image Is A Key Factor In Body Dysmorphic Disorders And Eating Disorders

Their research on anorexia nervosa as a subtype of body dysmorphic disorder was published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. Sufferers may be preoccupied with skin or nose appearance or the size of their arms, thighs or other body parts.

Repetitive behavior, such as constant body measuring or mirror checking, may also be present in anorexic patients. Sometimes, anorexic patients avoid places or activities that can incite or aggravate their self-consciousness related to their perceived body flaws. It is evident that, in some cases, there is a blurred line between anorexia and BDD.

Even if these similarities pose problems in recognizing the condition, they do not suggest that anorexia is a form of BDD. Similarities only show that sometimes the two are co-occurring conditions tied by the presence of a negative body image. It may be assumed that, in these cases, BDD is a component or a consequence of anorexia, as shown below.

Seeking Treatment For Body Dysmorphia And Eating Disorders

One may be encouraged to seek treatment for BDD if they are experiencing significant physical, medical, mental, or emotional impacts brought on by their BDD. These symptoms could include: heightened stress, anxiety, or depression struggling to participate in school or work loss of relationships or the development or coexistence of an eating disorder.

Body dysmorphia and eating disorders often go hand-in-hand, but it is important to recognize that there is no such thing as body dysmorphia eating disorder.This said, finding a treatment center that can address body dysmorphia and eating disorders along with other body image issues is vital to many peoples recovery journeys.

At Ai Ponos Maui location, we are able to provide residential treatment for body dysmorphia and eating disorders. We do this through intensive individual therapy sessions three times per week, process-based group therapy, psychoeducational groups, and various exercises and groups specifically designed to enhance and improve body awareness and acceptance.

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Recovery For Both Eating Disorders And Bdd

Surprisingly, thanks to the gift of recovery, many of us, including Matt, are now in a place where our attitude about our bodies is healthier than the average person! Like many things in life, our struggles ended up making us stronger.

If your body makes you feel like you are in a prison, have hope that things can get better. Make an appointment with a mental health counselor . And, if someone you care about is struggling with issues related to body image or eating, please share this post with them and encourage them to get help.

A body doesnt have to be a prison. Instead, our bodies can be precious vehicles for life. We can heal from both eating disorders and BDD. With treatment, effort, and persistence, people do get better. I know this firsthand!

In partnership with Insight Behavioral Health Centers , Eating Recovery Center provides specialized treatment for eating disorders as well as related disorders, including BDD.

Jenni Schaefer is a bestselling author and popular speaker on eating disorders and related disorders, including PTSD.


Who Is Most At Risk For Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Eating Disorder Illustrations, Royalty

Body dysmorphic disorder , or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others. People of any age can have BDD, but its most common in teenagers and young adults. It affects both men and women.

How is body dysmorphic disorder similar to eating disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder has some similarities to eating disorders. People with body dysmorphic disorder and those with an eating disorder worry about their body image. The difference is that a person with an eating disorder focuses on their weight and body shape. A person with body dysmorphic disorder is anxious about a specific body part.

Where can I get help for body dysmorphic disorder?

If you would like more information about Body Dysmorphic Disorder , or would like to discuss individual therapy, group therapy, online therapy, or intensive treatment at the OCD Center of Los Angeles, you can call us at 824-5200, or click here to email us.

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Symptoms Of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

People who have body dysmorphic disorder are preoccupied or obsessed with one or more perceived flaws in their appearance. This preoccupation or obsession typically focuses on one or more body areas or features, such as their skin, hair, or nose. However, any body area or part can be the subject of concern.

The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition outlines the criteria for a diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder. BDD is not classified as an eating disorder in the DSM-5. Instead, it is listed under the category of “Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.” The DSM-5 lists the following diagnostic criteria:

  • Preoccupation with one or more perceived defects in appearance that are not noticeable to others and are not truly disfigured.
  • At some point, the person suffering has performed repetitive actions or thoughts in response to the concerns. This may be something like continuously comparing their appearance to that of others, mirror checking, or skin picking.
  • This obsession causes distress and problems in a persons social, work, or other areas of life.
  • This obsession isnt better explained as a symptom of an eating disorder .

Muscle dysmorphia or a preoccupation with the idea that your muscles are too small is considered a subtype of body dysmorphic disorder.

Does Body Dysmorphia Cause Binge Eating Disorder Or Bulimia Nervosa

Research into specific binge eating disorder causes and causes of bulimia nervosa is ongoing. However, body dysmorphia is a well-known contributing factor. When someone has body dysmorphia, he or she is much more likely to be critical of weight, body shape and fitness levels. If the individual becomes obsessed with one or more of these issues, the development of bulimia nervosa may be more likely.

The relationship between binge eating disorder and body dysmorphia is more complicated. However, even though the link is not as clear, body dysmorphia can still play a role in the development of this disorder. For example, someone who has body dysmorphia may use binge eating as a coping mechanism. Someone with body dysmorphia may also be prone to frequent dieting, which can contribute to the development of binge eating disorder as well. In these cases, the individual restricts his or her food intake on a regular basis and eventually becomes overly hungry and frustrated, which can lead to episodes of bingeing.

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder May Occur As A Result Of:

  • Mental illness schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, hypomania, cyclothymia, hallucinatory disorder, etc.
  • Emotional instability low self-esteem, high anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression, etc.
  • Genetic factors in people with a family burden, the chance of developing the disease is 4-8 times higher.

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The Body As A Prison: Eating Disorders And Body Dysmorphic Disorder

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder? | Eating Disorders

Dr. Eda Gorbis discusses the common denominator between Body Dysmorphic Disorder and eating disorders.

Jenni Schaefer is a bestselling author, popular speaker, and a National Recovery Advocate for Eating Recovery Centers Family Institute. Her books include Life Without Ed Goodbye Ed, Hello Me and Almost Anorexic. In partnership with Insight Behavioral Health Centers, Eating Recovery Center provides specialized treatment for eating disorders as well as related disorders, including BDD. To learn more, visit

Katharine Phillips, MD, is internationally known for her pioneering research and clinical work in body dysmorphic disorder and related conditions. She has published more than 300 scientific papers, and she has authored or edited nine books on BDD and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, including a 2017 edited volume on BDD . She provides evaluation and treatment for patients in her clinical practice in New York City at Weill Cornell Medical College, and she is a Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Dr. Phillips is also a member of the IOCDFs Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board. To learn more visit

This article was initially published in the Winter 2017 edition of the OCD Newsletter


The description above is just one example of how an eating disorder used to control my life. For many years, my body was a prison.

Why does this matter?

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Who Gets Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The proportion of adults living with BDD in the United States has been found to be 2.4%, with men and women affected equally . It commonly begins in adolescence at the time when people are most sensitive about their appearance, but many sufferers live with it for years before seeking help for fear that they will be considered vain . Body Dysmorphia and its link to eating disorders are similar in this regard.

What is more, BDD is often underdiagnosed, partly because patients tend to talk to healthcare professionals about other related symptoms such as anxiety or depression rather than revealing their underlying concern . Children can get BDD too, but they are often unable to articulate their problems instead, signs that they are ill can include refusing to attend school and making plans for suicide .

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified /other Specified Feeding Or Eating Disorder

When a persons unique combination of disordered eating habits does not add up to bulimia or anorexia, the diagnosis was Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified until the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was updated. Currently, EDNOS is not a valid diagnosis. Rather, the term Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder is used to diagnose those who are living with a feeding or eating disorder that is intrusive in their lives emotionally and/or physically, causing distress or impairment, but does not fit the diagnostic criteria of anorexia or bulimia. In some cases, the persons experience may be similar in nature to that of someone living with anorexia or bulimia but vary just enough to be outside the diagnostic parameters for those disorders.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders , there are five subtypes of OSFED. These include:

Additionally, other disordered eating behaviors that have been reported by patients seeking treatment that may be classified as an OSFED include exercise addiction and orthorexia , among others.

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What Makes Body Dysmorphia And Eating Disorders Challenging To Treat

It can be difficult throughout the course of treatment to tease apart body dysmorphia and an eating disorder. Also, because someone with BDD may actually have a different way of seeing and perceiving themselves or their bodies, it can be difficult to be open to the input of others or be receptive to treatment in general.

Body dysmorphia typically develops during early adolescence , and is often missed, dismissed, or misdiagnosed. One of the reasons for this is that people who develop BDD often suffer from other mental health disorders like social anxiety, OCD, depression, or eating disorders. However, even though body dysmorphia might co-occur with these other mental health issues like an eating disorder, BDD is in fact its own disorder and there is no such things as body dysmorphia eating disorder.

The following may serve as barriers in the treatment of body dysmorphia and eating disorders:

  • Individuals with BDD delay seeking treatment for their disorder out of fear of being dismissed as vain or too obsessed with their appearance.

Brief Overview Over Additional Modules

Slim Girl Looking At Fat Reflection In Mirror. Eating Disorder Concept ...

Specific treatment strategies may be necessary to address symptoms affecting some but not all patients including: skin picking/hair pulling, muscularity and shape/weight, cosmetic treatment, and mood management . Habit reversal training can be used to address BDD-related skin picking or hair pulling. Patients with significant shape/weight concern, including those suffering from muscle dysmorphia often benefit from psychoeducation and cognitive-behavioral strategies tailored to shape/weight concerns. Therapists can use cognitive and motivational strategies to address maladaptive beliefs about the perceived benefits of surgery while at the same time helping the patient to nonjudgmentally explore the pros and cons of pursuing cosmetic surgery . Depression is common in patients with BDD and may become treatment interfering . Patients with significant depression can benefit from activity scheduling, as well as cognitive restructuring techniques for more severely depressed patients .

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Cultivating Intuition As Part Of The Recovery Process

Intuition is a therapeutic topic that is often discussed and worked upon at the Maui Residential Program. Intuition involves learning to trust ourselves and our feelings to guide us towards overall health and balance. Practicing skills such as emotional awareness, emotional regulation, and assertive communication along with engaging in group therapy allow patients to regain trust and confidence in their own ability to care for themselves with love, compassion, and understanding.

Learn About Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The most common worries of those who have body dysmorphic disorder come from the appearance of their hair, skin, nose, and other body parts or features.

Men who struggle with BDD often do so in a manner where they develop an intense desire to build massive amounts of muscle, leading to the development of dangerous eating patterns and possibly even steroid use. Women who are afflicted with BDD often develop poor eating habits, over-exercising behaviors, and/or other behaviors that will help them change their physical appearance. Both sexes often turn to extremes, such as plastic surgery. Those who have BDD tend to struggle with extreme self-consciousness, and they might be so anxious and self-conscious that they flee social contact, and possibly consider suicide. Since BDD includes extreme discomfort with ones body and appearance, those who suffer with this disorder can easily struggle with an accompanying eating disorder.

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Real Talk About How Body Dysmorphia Affects Dancers

Though candid conversations about eating disorders are becoming more common in the dance world, one struggle continues to plague dancers at an alarming rate: Body Dysmorphic Disorder . In an industry centered on physical appearance, BDDmore commonly known as body dysmorphiacan sometimes feel hard to avoid. But theres hope, and help, for those in need.

Is It An Eating Disorder Or Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphia, an Eating Disorder, and What I Would Tell #MyYoungerSelf | Gabbie Hanna

I stared in the mirror and obsessed about whether a space existed between my thighs. Sometimes referred to as the thigh gap, I did my best to stand at specific angles that might create such a space. When I couldnt achieve this so-called ideal after a considerable amount of effort, I wore baggy clothes to hide the perceived flaw. I stayed inagaininstead of hanging out with friends.

My body was my prison.

Does your body keep you from engaging in life? If so, you may have wondered if you have a problem. Well, maybe you havent.

But if youre obsessing about your shape, its important and really helpful to know the difference between two very serious mental illnesses: eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder. It can be really confusing to tell these two disorders apart.

People living with an eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder might relate to the behaviors described above . If this is you, you might also feel the need to seek reassurance about your physical appearance from friends and family.

Eating disorders and BDD are similar in these ways. Sadly, both disorders are also associated with depression and low self-esteem.

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What Is Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by periods of eating large amounts of food, which is known as binging. In most cases, these episodes of binging last for no more than two hours. During the episode, you may feel your eating is out of your control. This is followed by an extreme attempt to eliminate calories consumed during the binge, which is known as purging. Purging may take several different forms, including self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, extreme exercise or a combination of these attempts. Some people with bulimia nervosa may also alternate between episodes of binge eating and fasting.

Some of the specific symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:

  • Periods of binging, which means you eat a large amount of food in a short amount of time
  • Loss of control during episodes of binging
  • Rapid consumption of food during episodes of binging
  • Eating until you are uncomfortable or sick
  • Eating even though you are full
  • Hiding your eating from others
  • Engaging in purging behaviors to eliminate calories and avoid weight gain
  • Mental disturbances related to your eating, such as depression or anxiety

While some people with bulimia nervosa may have only a few of these symptoms, others may have almost all of them. However, any combination of these symptoms may indicate bulimia nervosa is present.

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