There are many links between body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a type of mental health condition that affects how an individual feels about their body image. It’s a condition that would be considered as severe if not treated properly, one that’s a constant battle and one that is very tough if you’re dealing with that and an eating disorder together.

Body Dysmorphia and eating disorders are something that is common amongst a wide variety of people, it can affect anyone and anyone can suffer from body dysmorphia or an eating disorder. BDD is something that can be of concern due to the fact it is a mental illness and that tends to be the cause as to why thinks can begin to get out of control if not treated beforehand. It is known to have some links to obsessive-compulsive disorder commonly known as OCD. The causes for body dysmorphia vary but it can be associated with genetics, a chemical imbalance in the brain or perhaps a traumatic experience in the past.

An eating disorder is another type of mental illness that is defined by dietary habits, this can be either eating very small meals or eating large amounts of food in a short period of time. The most common types of eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder (BED). Struggling with an eating disorder causes many issues both physically and mentally. Those who suffer from bulimia tend to have periods of binge eating. Where they will eat a large amount of food within a short time and later will feel guilt and shame and then that leads to purging and excessive excercise because they fear they’ll gain weight. It also works in a similar way to anorexia where the individual will eat small amounts of food as they have an irrational fear of obesity to the point they become extremely underweight.

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What are the symptoms for BDD?

  • Constantly be looking at a part of their body that causes them a lot of worries.
  • Looking in the mirror excessively or avoiding them at all costs.
  • Spending obsessive amounts of time comparing the way they look to others.
  • They might go to a crazy amount of effort to conceal certain flaws- for example, putting loads of makeup on to hide imperfections on the face, excessive excercise etc.

What are the symptoms of anorexia and bulimia?

Anorexia Nervosa: 

  • Lie about what and when they ate.
  • Lie about how much they weigh.
  • Miss meals, eating very little or avoid eating any foods that contain even the slightest bit of fat or too many calories.
  • Excessive excercise.
  • Making themselves sick.
  • Taking laxatives or diuretics to try to avoid putting on weight.
  • They might take slimming pills or diet pills.
  • Seeing losing a lot of weight as a positive.
  • Fear of gaining weight and believing they’re fat even when they’re either a healthy weight or underweight.


  • Eating a large amount of food in a short time, in a way where there is no self-control.
  • Making themselves vomit, using laxatives, extreme excercise after binging to avoid putting on weight.
  • Fear of putting on weight.
  • Being extremely critical about their weight and body image.


woman lying on white bed

Photo by Oleg Ivanov on Unsplash

How does BDD and eating disorders link together?

The main similarity is the way that both portray a hatred for body image and that’s a key factor for both BDD and an eating disorder. Those who suffer from an eating disorder in particular anorexia always pick out parts of their body they don’t like, or they eat less to not gain weight in regards to them not being overweight and then putting their bodies down even more. It’s not just about weight and putting it on, but the overall concern about other body aspects.

Picking out a certain flaw for example arms, skin, thighs etc could mean that the person suffering from an eating disorder would do loads of excercise or starve themselves to see a difference with their flaw. But it would often be done in a way that is extremely unhealthy and in an obscure amount of time. Which is similar to body dysmorphia in the fact of the individual suffering will pick out a flaw and fascinate over that in order to change it.

Constantly checking in mirrors and jumping on the scales every time they eat and continue to do that throughout the day. But they’re both equally as tough to deal with and both share similarities in regards to body image and the way they perceive flaws that they believe are significant and horrendous but to others, they don’t even notice them.

Getting help for BDD and an eating disorder

For either, you should see your GP as soon as possible if you might have BDD or an eating disorder. They may ask a variety of questions in relation to the individual’s symptoms and how they may affect their life. it may be extremely hard to ask for advice or help based on body dysmorphia or an eating disorder but it’s nothing to feel ashamed of and with the right help it can slowly get the individual back on the right track.

If the symptoms for body dysmorphia tend to be mild then a type of talking therapy may be recommended commonly known as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). If the symptoms appear to be more severe CBT or an antidepressant may be prescribed. CBT is used with body dysmorphia to help manage certain symptoms, find what is triggering the individual and teach ways to be able to ensure that the individual will then be able to think differently in relation to dealing with habits.

For anorexia, it may involve a variety of talking therapies and constantly being supervised through weight and what particular foods they’re eating. Starting treatment early is the best option so that the disorder can’t create greater risks. CBT is another type of talking therapy that might be recommended in order to help the individual cope with feelings, understand nutrition and how to eat healthily but in a good way.

Special supportive clinical management is a therapy that involves talking to a therapist who will try and help them understand what is causing the eating disorder. Having regular sessions, the therapist may set a target weight and will help them reach it. A therapist may give suggestions on what foods to eat to ensure that you’ll be keeping healthy.

For bulimia, it’s fairly similar, the therapist will monitor what you’re eating, learn about triggers with the individual, find other ways to cope and identify what has caused the condition. Again CBT will be offered.

With BDD and an eating disorder if it’s a child or a young person suffering then a member of the family may be asked to accompany them.

Read up more here in relation to eating disorders and what Becky has to offer, she mainly specialises in eating disorders and has done training with the National Centre for Eating Disorders. 

If you’re looking for any online counselling or walk and talk therapy whether you’re a parent and you’re looking for your children, you yourself need it or your a student or anyone that is struggling at this time, then please do not hesitate to contact Becky, you can access contact details here. Check out the website for more information and what there is to offer.