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Body dysmorphic disorder in patients with an eating disorder: prevalence and characteristics

Alexandra E Dingemans, Yanda R van Rood, Ineke de Groot, Eric F van Furth
International Journal of Eating Disorders 2012, 45 (4): 562-9

OBJECTIVE: Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), an abnormal preoccupation with perceived defects in one or more body parts, and eating disorders (ED) share several essential clinical features, making it sometimes difficult to differentiate between the two disorders. The aims of this study were to assess the prevalence of BDD in patients with ED and to compare characteristics of ED patients with and without BDD.

METHOD: We measured dysmorphic appearance concerns and behaviors, ED symptoms, general psychopathology, and quality of life in 158 patients seeking treatment for ED.

RESULTS: Forty-five percent screened positive for BDD. Patients with both disorders (ED + BDD) had significantly more dysmorphic appearance concerns, had more psychopathology, and were dissatisfied with a larger number of body parts than patients with ED only. The differences remained significant even after correcting for severity of eating disorder psychopathology.

DISCUSSION: This finding suggests that BDD is a distinct comorbid disorder in almost half of the patients with ED. It is thus important to recognize and treat the manifestation of BDD in patients with both disorders. Given that the treatment of BDD is different from that of ED, it is important to recognize BDD.

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