Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Food Restriction Due To Body Image Disorder Linked With Suicide Risks

People who restrict how much they eat because they have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a kind of body image disorder, may also be at a higher risk for attempting suicide, according to a new study.

Research published in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior shows that restricting food intake because of BDD is linked with a doubled risk of attempting suicide. However, researchers did not find a link between restricting food intake because of BDD and ideas of suicide.

"Significantly limiting food intake can be physically painful," study researcher Dr. Katharine A. Phillips, M.D., of Rhode Island Hospital, said in a statement. "It goes against our natural instincts to feed our bodies and 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 have not previously been diagnosed with an eating disorder."

The study included 200 people (more than half were women) who had BDD. They were all between ages of 14 and 64, and the number of past suicide attempts ranged from 0 to 25.

If you or someone you know is in danger of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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

Body dysmorphic disorder occurs when a person is convinced that something about his or her appearance is wrong (even though nothing is actually wrong). The researchers reported that about 25 percent of people with this condition have attempted suicide, and 75 percent of people with the condition think that that their lives aren't worth living.

When you have body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely obsess over your appearance and body image, often for many hours a day. You may seek out numerous cosmetic procedures to try to "fix" your perceived flaws, but never will be satisfied.

The Mayo Clinic noted that common symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder relate to appearance, such as extreme grooming habits, skin picking, wearing excessive makeup, looking at yourself too much or avoiding looking at yourself in the mirror, and generally being extremely preoccupied and self conscious about appearance.

The condition is usually treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, and some medications can also help, the Mayo Clinic reported.