body dysmorphia and eating disordersMost people have instances where they wish they had a better build or body form, particularly when they happen to see others who have spent a good deal of time in exercise and bodybuilding. For the most part, this is normal, although there are times when people experience a range of emotions from severe disappointment to outright revulsion and disgust when they see their bodies.

This condition is called body dysmorphia, and because the most prominent connection with body issues is weight, health experts are looking at any connection there might be between body dysmorphia and eating disorders.

The Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) released data indicating that body dysmorphic disorder affects around 2.4% of the total adult population of the US, while the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) revealed that at least 9% of the United States population, or 28.8 million Americans will experience an eating disorder at least once in their lifetime.

Fortunately, effective mental health treatment for these conditions is available. Seeking professional help at 449 Recovery in Mission Viejo, California can make a significant difference in a person’s recovery.

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), also commonly known as body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person is plagued by the obsessive idea that some aspect of one’s appearance or specific body part is flawed in some way. This condition then forces the person to take exceptional measures to hide or fix it. This perceived flaw could either be real or imagined, and in both cases, the perception of the flaw is severely exaggerated, and the person suffers from persistent, pervasive, and intrusive thoughts about these flaws. A person with BDD could stress over these perceived flaws for hours at a time, although there are extreme cases where the person agonizes over these thoughts for days.

The persistent and obsessive nature of BDD classifies it as an obsessive-compulsive disorder, although this condition also tends to involve bouts of depression, which associates it with social anxiety as well because of the extreme self-hate and fear that others might also perceive the flaws.

The visual component that influences the perception of the flaws also suggests some form of delusion, as the flaws are perceived only by the person with BDD. Seeking treatment through outpatient rehab or a partial hospitalization program for BDD is crucial to managing symptoms and improving overall well-being.

This condition can affect people of any age and both men and women, although it is most common in young adults and teenagers. Some people with BDD find a measure of satisfaction when they have cosmetic procedures to supposedly fix their perceived flaws, although this satisfaction is typically temporary. This is mostly because the condition’s nature will also cause the person to constantly find imperfections in themselves that they could stress over.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Trying to spot someone with body dysmorphic disorder could be quite challenging as most would rather hide away for fear of others noticing their perceived flaws or imperfections. Those whose symptoms have been documented, however, include:

  • Being extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance
  • The belief that others take special notice of perceived flaws or imperfections
  • The belief that others might ridicule their perceived flaw or imperfections
  • Engaging in behaviors aimed at fixing or hiding the perceived flaw
  • Inability to resist the urge to frequently check a mirror, to groom, or to pick at the skin
  • An extreme effort to hide perceived flaws through cosmetics or clothes
  • Urge to constantly compare self-appearance with others
  • Frequently seeking reassurance about appearance from others
  • Having perfectionist tendencies
  • Undergoing cosmetic procedures that provide short-lived satisfaction
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide brought on by self-hate
  • Manic exercise routines

What is an Eating Disorder?

body dysmorphia and eating disorders treatmentEating disorders cover a range of psychological conditions that are associated with pronounced unhealthy eating habits. An eating disorder will often cause a distorted perception relevant to food, body weight, or body shape. Since this disorder has a direct connection with how a person eats and nutrition, it is considered as being a deadly form of mental illness, and people who have it are advised to seek immediate mental health treatment in Orange County, CA.

The more common symptoms of eating disorders include:

  • Severe restriction of food
  • Uncontrollable food binges
  • Purging behaviors (vomiting, unnecessary use of laxatives)
  • Overexercising

What are the Types of Eating Disorders?

Most people who do not understand the condition think that an eating disorder is simply the inability to eat properly. While this might be an accurate way to describe it, different types of eating disorders have been studied and classified by mental health experts, including:

The restricting type

These are the people who display constant avoidance of eating, which others mistake mostly for being overly concerned with weight issues.

The binge eating and purging type

These are the people who eat massive amounts of food only to induce vomiting later. Many entertainers and public personalities are known to suffer from this type.

Anorexia is immensely damaging to the body, with people who have it experiencing a decrease in bone density, infertility, and hair loss. If left untreated, it could result in organ failure due to malnutrition and death.

Similar to anorexia, bulimia typically manifests during adolescence, with women being more susceptible to it. Those who suffer from bulimia frequently binge on food until they feel painfully full. During the binge eating session, these people feel that they cannot stop eating or control the amount of food they are eating. Some even have it worse because they would binge on foods they would usually avoid.

People with bulimia will then attempt to purge what they ate, usually through induced vomiting, to try to remove the calories they consumed and to relieve the sensation of being painfully full.

Purging typically includes:

  • Forced vomiting
  • Unreasonable fasting
  • Chronic unnecessary use of laxatives, diuretics, and enemas
  • Manic exercise

The symptoms of bulimia may appear to be very similar to that of binge eating or the purging subtypes of anorexia nervosa, although bulimics tend to maintain a relatively typical weight as opposed to anorexia where the person becomes severely underweight.

Symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:

  • Uncontrollable chronic binge eating
  • Severe purging behaviors to prevent weight gain
  • Self-esteem is overly dependent on body shape and weight
  • Severe fear of weight gain regardless of actual weight
  • Inflamed and/or sore throat
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Severely worn tooth enamel
  • Prominent tooth decay
  • Acid reflux
  • Gut irritation
  • Severe dehydration
  • Hormonal disturbances associated with malnutrition
  • Electrolyte imbalance

In severe cases, bulimia can also create an imbalance in levels of electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and calcium. This imbalance is associated with strokes and heart attacks.

body dysmorphia vs eating disordersAs the name would suggest, people who suffer from binge eating disorder will consume an obscene amount of food whenever they can until they take on a dangerous amount of weight. Much like bulimia and anorexia nervosa, the person is unable to control their eating habits.

People who suffer from binge eating will typically eat usually large amounts of food in a relatively short amount of time. While they eat, they feel completely unable to stop themselves, and will not consider the calories they have already consumed. Binge eaters also don’t typically engage in purging behaviors, or excessive exercise to compensate for the excessive eating.

Symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • Consuming large amounts of food rapidly
  • Eating in secret
  • Eating despite not feeling hungry
  • Feeling a lack of control while they binge eat
  • Feeling shame, disgust, or guilt while eating
  • Obesity

This severely unhealthy eating habit will inevitably lead to severe weight gain, which also increases the chances of medical complications such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes

Pica is an eating disorder that induces people to eat things that are not considered food, such as snow, dirt, soil, chalk, soap, paper, hair, cloth, wool, pebbles, and laundry detergent. While this behavior is usually associated with toddlers who put anything they grab into their mouths, this condition could manifest in adults and adolescents as well. This disorder is also seen in individuals with specific conditions, such as intellectual disabilities, developmental conditions like autism spectrum disorder, and mental health conditions like schizophrenia.

Individuals afflicted with pica are at high risk of poisoning, infections, stomach injuries, and nutritional deficiencies. Depending on what was eaten, this condition could even be fatal. Medically speaking, however, pica is strictly related to a mental health condition and is not associated with ritualistic consumption as practiced in cultural practices or religious traditions.

Rumination disorder is an eating disorder that mimics the eating process associated with ruminants such as cows. When they eat, ruminants tend to regurgitate a portion of the food they previously ate and chew it once more. People with this disorder also regurgitate the food they had previously swallowed to chew it again. They then either swallow it again or spit it out.

This behavior is believed to develop during infancy, childhood, or even in adults. In infants, this behavior comes out between 3 and 12 months of age and will typically disappear on its own. Infants who were not able to outgrow this behavior will often suffer from severe weight loss and malnutrition, which could prove to be fatal. Children who do not outgrow this behavior and adults who have it will need psychotherapy to treat it, as this disorder restricts the amount of food they eat, leading to weight loss, and potentially life-threatening malnutrition.

The term Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, or ARFID was initially called feeding disorder of infancy and early childhood. This is a condition that was previously associated with children under the age of 7. This condition makes it difficult to eat due to either a lack of interest in the act of eating, or a distaste for certain smells, tastes, colors, textures, or temperatures.

Symptoms of ARFID include:

  • Avoidance or restriction of certain food items
  • Eating habits (avoidance or restriction) that interfere with typical social functions
  • Weight loss
  • Poor development for age and height
  • Malnutrition
  • Nutrient deficiencies

People afflicted with ARFID may need to depend on numerous food supplements to receive the nutrients that they would otherwise not get due to the limitations brought on by this eating disorder. In extreme cases, tube feeding may be required for the person to get the needed nutrients.

Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder the Same as Eating Disorder?

The closest relationship seen between body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders is that both conditions will have a severe impact on how a person eats. The main focus of someone with BDD could be is having a body that in their eyes is ideal or perfect, although, to someone with BDD, this is an impossibility as their condition prevents them from ever being satisfied with themselves. In the case of eating disorders, the problem comes from the fact that all types will lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, as people with eating disorders could end up either severely malnourished or grossly overweight.

Both conditions are manifestations of mental health issues associated with perception and food. As such, various therapy services are available to help address conditions associated with disordered eating. There is a need to first address what goes on in the mind of the person before the actual symptoms could be treated.

Receive the Best Treatment for Body Dysmorphia and Eating Disorders

difference between body dysmorphia and eating disordersSo many people suffer needlessly from untreated mental health conditions that manifest in eating-related issues. People who do not suffer from it might not understand the gravity of the situation, but anything that affects a person’s ability to eat properly is a silent killer.

Our team of specialists at 449 Recovery goes the extra mile to assess and find the best approach to help people in dealing with issues relating to disordered eating. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one.