Eating Disorders Linked to Perfectionism

eating disorder treatmentsResearchers at Finders University have found that perfectionists are more likely to suffer from body dissatisfaction.

After studying 1083 women between the ages of 28 and 40, the researchers discovered that people with both adaptive perfectionism, (people who have high standards for both organization and their body) and people with maladaptive perfectionism, (people who are concerned with mistakes and the opinions of others) are more likely to have body image issues.

The scientists found that the more of a perfectionist someone was, the greater their likelihood of developing an ED. This was especially true for people that focus on organization and avoiding mistakes.

Researchers were also concerned over the finding that the more someone focused on being perfect, the lower their target BMI. This means perfectionists are not just at a greater risk of and eating disorder, they are also more likely to start with a much lower target BMI which could put them at greater risk from their ED at an earlier stage in the disease.

“Knowing that high levels of perfectionism of any sort are a risk factor for eating disorders suggests we should tackle ‘all or nothing’ attitudes with clients,” Professor Terry Wade, one of the lead researchers on the study said.

“We should also help clients to become less invested in defining their self-worth in terms of their ability to achieve high standards,” she said.

These latest finding may be linked to another study which examined helping people with an eating disorders using treatments common for OCD.

The study which took place at Rogers Memorial Hospital found that people with an eating disorder had a better chance of recovery if they were simultaneously treated for OCD and their eating disorder.

"It's not unusual for eating disorders and OCD to occur together," study co-author Dr. Weltzin explained. "To date, however, there has been little data regarding the best methods to treat these complex cases. At Rogers, we specialize in the treatment of both disorders and typically evaluate for comorbidity at admission. Our residential treatment program has been developed with a cognitive-behavioural approach for patients with both OCD and an eating disorder. This outcome study confirms that simultaneous treatment is an effective strategy for treating complex cases."

These two new studies could pave the way for a range of innovative eating disorder treatments. With so many EDs triggered by a percieved loss of control, a treatment that helped lessen the need for control could potentially make diseases like anorexia and bulimia far more treatable.

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