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Four Ways to Spot Body Image Issues

Update Date: Aug 18, 2014 02:16 PM EDT

Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, can become life threatening especially when they are not treated. However, in order to get treated, people have to first acknowledge their condition and admit that they have a health problem.

"Disordered eating can be a symptom of it, but there is no surefire sign. What body dysmorphic disorder really means is that you are so preoccupied with either a real (but slight) or imagined imperfection that you become consumed by it," explained Health contributing psychology editor Gail Saltz, MD, according to TIME.

Here are Four Ways to Spot out a Body Image Disorder:

1. The Need for Reassurance

People with body image disorder are most likely not openly discussing their problems. One thing that friends and family members who are concerned about someone could do is to listen and look for certain cues. People with body image issues typically want reassurance about certain body parts. For example, when someone repeatedly asks about a body part and does not seem to feel better even after receiving reassurance, it could indicate body dysmorphia.

2. Clothing does not make Sense

People inevitably have different styles. Even though you might not agree with a friend's sense of fashion, it does not mean that one way of dressing is better than the other. However, when it comes to body dysmorphia, how one dresses can be used as a way to detect the disorder. In the case of body image issues, people might dress a certain way to compensate for another part of the their body.

"For example, she's putting on a tent of a dress and saying it's to hide her belly that doesn't exist," Dr. Saltz explained.

3. The Use of Extremes

People with body image disorders are more likely to go to extremes with their body image. According to Dr. Saltz, dysmorphia can be closely linked to anxiety problems such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). In the case of body image, the person might feel like he/she has to perfect a particular body part or body parts. Extreme measures include repeated plastic surgery and diet restrictions.

4. Fear of Getting Noticed

People with dysmorphia tend to be very concerned about how other people see them. The anxiety that they get from receiving attention can worsen to the point where they start to hide from others. Hiding can mean skipping out on happy hours or night events to stay at home or turning down a promotion or a new job offer in order to avoid extra attention.

Body dysmorphic disorder is a real and serious condition that can get better through treatment. But the first step in treating any disorder or disease is to diagnose it.

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