Body Dysmorphic Disorder Doubles Suicide Risk

Body dysmorphic disorder is one of those conditions that is difficult to understand if you or someone you love has not suffered it- the psychological nature leads many to believe that behaviors linked with the tormenting illness are ones that can simply be overcome or abandoned with enough “willpower” or a better mindset.

But those who struggle with body dysmorphic disorder, the invisible battle to overcome the condition can be painful and life-altering, and the condition is often co-morbid with major forms of depression as well as social anxiety. In addition, suicidal ideation has long been linked with body dysmorphic disorder- but new research reveals that those who suffer from the mental illness have twice the suicide risk of those who do not.

Body dysmorphic disorder is defined as defined as a crippling fixation on one or more body flaws, which can manifest in (among other things) excessive dieting to shed perceived excess weight, and often the sufferer is of an average build. Males and females equally suffer body dysmorphic disorder, as well as children and adolescents.

New research published in the medical journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior examined the heightened risk between body dysmorphic disorder and suicide, and researcher Dr. Katharine A. Phillips, MD of Rhode Island Hospital, explains:

“Significantly limiting food intake can be physically painful… It goes against our natural instincts to feed our bodies and people may respond to the physical pain that comes with extreme hunger.”

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“The results of this study suggest the importance of assessing individuals with BDD for restrictive eating behaviors to identify suicide risk, even if they haven’t previously been diagnosed with an eating disorder.”

Between one and two percent of the world’s population fits the diagnostic criteria for body dysmorphic disorder.