Researchers assessed the prevalence and clinical correlates of body image concerns including: body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), eating disorders (ED) (such as bulimia or anorexia), and other clinically significant concerns over shape/weight in adolescent inpatients at Bradley Hospital, the nation's first psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents. Classic BDD is a preoccupation with an imagined physical defect in appearance or a vastly exaggerated concern about a minimal defect, like a crooked nose or imperfect complexion. Weight-related BDD, however, is classified as distressing and impairing preoccupations with one's weight and shape ie: thinking one's thighs are too fat or one's waist is too big.
The study found that one third of inpatient adolescents had problematic body image concerns, and that these patients were more severely ill than other adolescent inpatients in a number of important domains. Specifically, those with BDD and shape/weight preoccupations had significantly higher levels of depression, anxiety, and suicidality than other patients with no body image concerns. Those with eating disorders had significantly higher rates of depression than those without body image concerns.
"These findings underscore just how central feelings about one's appearance tend to be in the world of teenagers and how impairing these concerns can be," says lead author, Jennifer Dyl, PhD, with Bradley Hospital and Brown Medical School.
This is the first study to show that adolescents with BDD and with shape/weight preoccupations display higher levels of symptoms in areas like depression
Contact: Carol L. Vieira