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Difference Between Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Anorexia

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder in which a person is obsessed with an imaginary or insignificant defect in his/her body that others do not notice. People with this condition often avoid social contacts or turn to plastic surgery to improve their appearance.

Body dysmorphic disorder is classified into the category of obsessive-compulsive disorder. If not treated, it can become a chronic condition. 

Body dysmorphic disorder is a relatively common and often severe mental illness.

It usually occurs in early adolescence, but it can also occur in older people who are too concerned about the aging process.

Body dysmorphic disorder affects men and women relatively equally. Women tend to develop eating disorders, while men, especially those who engage in bodybuilding, fitness, and other sports, are more likely to develop so-called muscular dysmorphia.

Body dysmorphic disorder is common in people with eating disorders.

The course of the disorder usually persists over time, with symptoms alternating with periods of exacerbation and fading. The part of the body that is in the patient’s focus may be the same or may change over time.

The main symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder are:

  • Increased concern about a defect in appearance;
  • Suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts;
  • Problems with social skills and professional development.

Many patients have concomitant diseases such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, social phobia, etc. 

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. 

Diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder is based on:

  • Analysis of the symptoms;
  • Personal, family, and social history;
  • Psychological evaluation of the behavior, feelings, and thoughts related to the negative self-image.

With appropriate treatment, both with medication and with psychotherapy, body dysmorphic disorder usually has a good prognosis. The probability of complete recovery is relatively high and the likelihood of recurrence of the disease after remission is low.

 

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia is an eating disorder whereby the patients deliberately and without objectively apparent reasons drastically reduce their weight. 

It may be a temporary disorder, but it is possible to become chronic and lead to a life-threatening condition. 

Weight loss is achieved through strict low-calorie diets, vomiting, laxatives, excessive training. Very often the weight loss is drastic within a few months. Characteristically, patients perceive they are fat, despite the abnormally low body weight.

Anorexia mainly affects girls in puberty and young women. Less than 5% of the patients are male. 

Symptoms of anorexia are:

  • Weight loss – a reduction of more than 15% of the normal for the age and height;
  • Body mass index (BMI) below 17.5;
  • Adolescent developmental disorders – secondary amenorrhea, etc.; 
  • Constipation – caused by the reduced amount of food;
  • Cachexia, dry skin, hypotension, decreased body temperature, decreased heartbeat, disorders of the body’s water-balance, osteoporosis, etc.
  • Patients often lie about their feeding and weight.

The disease is caused by the interaction of mental, family, social and cultural factors. The causative factors include:

  • Genetic factors – in patients with family history the development of anorexia is 10 times more likely;
  • Psychiatric factors – depression, panic disorder, abuse, and abnormality in sexual behavior often precede anorexia;
  • Personal characteristics – in patients with anorexia, tendencies towards perfectionism, decreased initiative, and social fear are often observed.
  • Socio-cultural factors – cult to perfect appearance;
  • Biological factors- perinatal hypoxia, premature birth, etc.

Diagnosis is based on:

  • Physical examination;
  • Psychological evaluation; 
  • Laboratory tests – complete blood count, analysis of the electrolytes and protein, etc. 

The therapy of the disease includes three main directions:

  • Rehabilitation and diet therapy;
  • Psychotherapy;
  • Work with the family to build an appropriate and supportive environment for the patient.

Complete remission occurs in 50% of the patients, in 30% occurs improvement in the symptom. 

 

Difference Between Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Anorexia

  1. Definition 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder in which a person is obsessed with an imaginary or insignificant defect in his/her body that others do not notice.

Anorexia: Anorexia is a disorder of eating behavior whereby the patients deliberately and without objectively apparent reasons drastically reduce their weight.

  1. Occurrence

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Body dysmorphic disorder usually occurs in early adolescence, but it can also occur in older people who are too concerned about the aging process. It affects men and women relatively equally. 

Anorexia: Anorexia mainly affects girls in puberty and young women. Less than 5% of the patients are male. 

  1. Symptoms

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: The main symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder are increased concern about a defect in appearance, suicidal behavior, problems with social skills and professional development.

Anorexia: Symptoms of anorexia are significant weight loss, BMI below 17.5, adolescent developmental disorders, constipation, cachexia, dry skin, hypotension, decreased body temperature, decreased heartbeat, disorders of the body’s water-balance, osteoporosis, etc.

  1. Etiology

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Body dysmorphic disorder may occur as a result of mental illness, emotional instability, and genetic factors. 

Anorexia: Anorexia is caused by mental, family, social and cultural factors. The causative factors include genetic factors, psychiatric factors, personal characteristics, socio-cultural factors, biological factors, etc.

  1. Diagnosis

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder is based on an analysis of the symptoms; personal, family, social history; psychological evaluation of the behavior, feelings, and thoughts related to the negative self-image. 

Anorexia: Diagnosis of anorexia is based on physical examination, psychological evaluation, laboratory tests. 

  1. Treatment

Body Dysmorphic Disorder:  Body dysmorphic disorder is treated with medications and with psychotherapy.

Anorexia: The therapy of anorexia includes rehabilitation and diet therapy, psychotherapy, work with the family to build an appropriate and supportive environment for the patient. 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder Vs. Anorexia: Tabular Form

 

Summary of Body Dysmorphic Disorder Vs. Anorexia: 

  • Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder in which a person is obsessed with an imaginary or insignificant defect in his/her body that others do not notice.
  • Anorexia is a disorder of eating behavior whereby the patients deliberately and without objectively apparent reasons drastically reduce their weight.
  • Body dysmorphic disorder usually occurs in early adolescence, but it can also occur in older people. It affects men and women relatively equally. Anorexia mainly affects girls in puberty and young women. Less than 5% of the patients with anorexia are male. 
  • The main symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder are increased concern about a defect in appearance, suicidal behavior, problems with social skills and professional development. The main symptoms of anorexia are significant weight loss, BMI below 17.5, adolescent developmental disorders, constipation, cachexia, dry skin, hypotension, decreased body temperature, decreased heartbeat, disorders of the body’s water-balance, osteoporosis, etc.
  • Body dysmorphic disorder may occur as a result of mental illness, emotional instability, and genetic factors. Anorexia is caused by genetic factors, psychiatric factors, personal characteristics, socio-cultural factors, biological factors, etc.
  • Diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder is based on an analysis of the symptoms; personal, family, social history; psychological evaluation of the behavior, feelings, and thoughts related to the negative self-image. Diagnosis of anorexia is based on physical examination, psychological evaluation, laboratory tests. 
  • Body dysmorphic disorder is treated with medications and with psychotherapy. The therapy of anorexia includes rehabilitation and diet therapy, psychotherapy, work with the family to build an appropriate and supportive environment for the patient. 

 

Dr. Mariam Bozhilova Forest Research Institute, BAS

Environmental Expert with PhD in Botany at Forest Research Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Mariam has a Master’s degree in Ecology and a PhD in Botany.
Currently, she works in the Forest Research Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Mariam has more than 10 years of professional experience in scientific research and environmental consultancy. She has worked within non-profit, profit, and academic environment, and consulted business clients and competent authorities.
Her main professional interests are in the area of:
Scientific research;
Web content writing;
Environmental consultancy.
Dr. Mariam Bozhilova Forest Research Institute, BAS

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References :


[0]Smolak, L., M. Levine (Eds). The Wiley Handbook of Eating Disorders. Assessment, Prevention, Treatment, Policy, and Future Directions. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 2015. Print.

[1]Treasure, J. Anorexia Nervosa. New York: Psychology Press Ltd. 1997. Print. 

[2]Wilhelm, S., K. Phillips, G. Steketee. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Body Dysmorphic Disorder. New York: Guilforg Press. 2012. Print.

[3]Image credit: http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/dictionary/anorexia-nervosa.jpg

[4]Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fixersuk/11838612286

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