Another risk for dieters has shown itself with body dysmorphic disorder. Researched published this spring shows that the chance for suicide in those with the disorder increase by 50 percent. The study, published in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, theorizes that because it takes a high pain tolerance to essentially starve oneself, that person also has the pain tolerance to undergo a painful suicide attempt. Researchers also reported that 25 percent of people with the disorder have attempted suicide and 75 percent thought their lives were not worth living.
To have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) means to have an obsession with a real or imagined flaw in one’s body image. This condition has long been known to be dangerous and life threatening. It’s also known as “broken mirror syndrome,” a reference to BDD sufferers’ tendency to stare at themselves in the mirror for hours agonizing over a small defect in their appearance. They often become somewhat delusional, for instance seeing great amounts of fat on their body where there is not.
Although gender stereotypes suggest that women are more likely to have this disorder, the gender ratio is fairly equal. Both men and women with BDD commonly see flaws with their facial features, skin, or weight. Patients sometimes seek to improve their appearance by extreme dieting, cosmetic surgery, or excessive amounts of exercise. (more…)
When British businesswoman Sarah Bird weighed in at her doctor’s office, she was shocked to discover that she was not a healthy weight, as she had believed, and that at 5’10” she weighed 238 pounds. Sarah knew that she did not have the body of a runway model, but the term “obese” was hard for her to swallow.
After Internet research confirmed her primary care physician’s diagnosis, Sarah set out on her own to lose weight, rejecting her physician’s referral to a weight loss program. She believed she had taught herself enough in years of yo-yo dieting to do it on her own. Sarah also forced herself to view herself in a full-length mirror for the first time in years, and she was shocked again at what she saw. As Sarah realized just how inaccurately she had perceived herself, she wrote a book about her experiences.