Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Extreme Dieting Linked With Suicide Risks

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When you have body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely obsess over your appearance and body image, often for many hours a day, and may feel very depressed or even suicidal, according to an eye-opening new study.

People who restrict how much they eat because they have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), may be at higher risk of taking their own lives.

Researchers say restricting food intake because of BDD is linked with double the risk of suicide. In short, body image issues can kill you.


"Significantly limiting food intake can be physically painful," study researcher Dr. Katharine A. Phillips, M.D., of Rhode Island Hospital, said.

"It goes against our natural instincts to feed our bodies and people may respond to the physical pain that comes with extreme hunger."

"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."

The study included 200 people (more than half women) who had BDD, ages 14-64, with their past suicide attempts ranging from 0-25.

Body dysmorphic disorder occurs when a person is convinced that something about his or her appearance is wrong (even though nothing is).

The researchers reported that about 25 percent of people with this condition have attempted suicide, and 75 percent think life is not worth living.

There's your PSA for today. If you or someone you know is a suicide risk, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

And if you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 800-931-2237.

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