Body dysmorphic disorder is a condition that causes sufferers to constantly imagine and see their body as flawed. It's more common than you think — and also more deadly.


It's not at all unusual to worry about a pimple on your nose or wish your waist was a little trimmer. We all get hung up on what we perceive as out body's imperfections from time to time. But for sufferers of a condition called body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, these hangups become obsessive, and they can lead to real damage and even death if not treated.


In a new study published in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, researchers from Rhode Island Hospital and Auburn University looked at the connection between suicide attempts and BDD and found that restrictive food intake was associated with an increased number of suicide attempts.


Researchers looked at a number of physically painful BDD-related behaviors, including food restriction, excessive exercise, BDD-related cosmetic surgery, compulsive skin picking and physical self-mutilation. Of all of these behaviors, only restrictive food intake was associated with more than double the number of suicide attempts, while those with a history of BDD-related excessive exercise had less than half the number of suicide attempts.  


"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," said Dr. Katharine Phillips, a lead researcher for the study and director of the Body Dysmorphic Program at Rhode Island Hospital.

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