By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We know a great deal about anorexia and bulimia. These are two eating disorders that represent major health issues in this country. They are particularly important not just because they are eating disorders but because they are associated with a distorted body image.
A lesser-known disorder is not as common but public health officials are trying to get the word out. It is called body dysmorphic disorder. The problem was first identified back in 1891 by an Italian physician and it has been officially recognized in the United States since 1987.
The condition is different than eating disorders. In body dysmorphic disorder, a person is preoccupied with an imagined deficit in the appearance of one or more body parts. Many of these people go to cosmetic surgeons hoping to have the problem corrected, but surgery rarely is the answer.
The good news is, if the problem is recognized, some sorts of drugs, in fact, drugs used for depression like the SSRIs, seem to work and make a big difference.
All of these disorders of body image require counseling and support.