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Comparing and contrasting body-dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders

02 April 2019
Volume 8 · Issue 3


The medical aesthetics sector is very often associated with ideas of body image and self-perception. It is important that aesthetic practitioners have a sound knowledge of mental health disorders that may affect their patients or drive individuals to seek aesthetic treatment. In this article, Eda Gorbis and Justine Jamero compare some of these disorders and consider the implications for aesthetic practitoners

Body-dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and eating disorders (EDs) are psychiatric disorders concerned with negative body image and similar repetitive behaviours, such as checking and reassurance-seeking, that impair cognitive, social and occupational functioning. Though BDD and EDs share common core characteristics, they are unique disorders that must be differentiated, as they require different treatment plans. BDD, anorexia nervosa, binge-eating disorder and bulimia nervosa will be reviewed in this article to address diagnostic criteria, prevalence rates, onset and common characteristics. Similarities, differences and comorbidities of BDD and EDs will be explored and discussed in terms of treatment implications. Treatment recommendations include medical treatment, psychoeducation, nutritional management, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and psychopharmacology.

Body-image concerns are typical in the average person, as most people are not completely satisfied with their body and overall appearance. Some individuals may think negatively about their weight, and, in response to this, they might start to exercise and go on a diet. However, body image concerns, and behaviours driven by these concerns, can be taken to the negative extreme. To illustrate, some individuals may spend many hours every day thinking about their weight, and, in response to this, they will excessively exercise and skip meals to the point of starvation. These thoughts and behaviours can significantly interfere with cognitive, social and occupational functioning. In these cases, individuals may have underlying psychiatric disorders, such as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and/or eating disorders (EDs), including anorexia nervosa binge-eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa. This article will review each disorder and explore the similarities, differences and comorbidity of BDD and ED to increase awareness of differential diagnosis and to discuss treatment implications and recommendations.

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