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Three Common Body Image Disorders Affecting Women

Updated on February 19, 2014

Women everywhere are constantly trying to be as perfect as the images they see of celebrities with the perfect bodies. This has led many to be conscious of what they eat, where and when they do. There are those who go the healthy way through proper exercise and eating healthy in an attempt to get this perfect image. However some choose to go the extreme way to achieve the perfect body size.

Anorexia is the most common disorder found among women. Its scientific term is anorexia nervosa. It is usually characterized by unhealthy eating habits that lead one to losing a lot of weight. Any woman who has this disorder has a common fear of being fat or adding weight which leads them to diet excessively.

Anorexia: A Psychological Disorder

The excessive dieting can be followed by excessive use of diet pills, aggressive weight loss exercises all in a bid to lose weight. Anorexia is usually termed as a psychological disorder. It is commonly found to be with teenagers and young girls who start having body image issues at a very young age.

According to psychologists, there is no direct cause of anorexia. However there are risk factors that can lead to the disorder. Some include low self-esteem, depression and a history of under eating. The consequences of the disorder can be dire. Most common include hair loss, brittle nails and skin. A girl can also miss her periods regularly and if she gets pregnant, it can lead to a miscarriage. The worst consequence of them all is obviously death due to malnutrition.

Bulimia Eating Disorder

Bulimia is the other eating disorder found among women with irregular health habits. Unlike anorexia, this disorder is characterized by binge eating. The person tends to overeat and purge which then becomes an obsession. This later is followed by excessive weight control methods. This can include compulsive and excessive exercising, vomiting and even fasting.

Due to these obsessive acts, people with bulimia tend to suffer from depression and emotional stress. They also have low self-esteem and have feelings of helplessness. However they tend to appear normal and some can even be overweight.

It is usually difficult to identify a bulimic person since they do all their eating habits in secret. Some can even go to the extremes of eating things like serviettes to stop the hunger feeling.

Just like anorexia there is no known cause of bulimia. According to some medical practitioners, people who tend to be bulimic may have relatives with bulimia.

BDD: Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The third most common disorder among women is body dysmorphic disorder scientifically referred to as dysmorphophobia. This in lay man terms is the fear of having a flaw in your appearance or ugliness. It is a condition that affects many women who constantly think that they have a flaw in their image. They tend to be obsessed with their appearance and their body image for hours on end.

With this constant obsession, they tend to try all sorts of solutions and cosmetic procedures to fix their perceived flaws. But even with all the solutions they try, they are left dissatisfied. Women with this disorder tend to believe they are unattractive; some spend hours looking at themselves in the mirror while others avoid mirrors completely. Others have delusions such as excessive grooming, frequent procedures and cosmetic routines that leave them with little satisfaction. In most of the cases women obsess about features such as breast size, acne, weight, blemishes, hair, genitalia, the nose and other facial features.

With the complexity of these disorders, women suffering from any of them are constantly in denial and do not admit they need help or are ready to seek it. They usually shy away and remain secretive when anyone tries to help. The best and only way to help them is to get them to seek psychological help. Support from family and friends can go a long way in helping them get over the disorders.


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