While there are many different body image problems recognized by medical professionals, the most common serious body image disorder is body dysmorphic disorder. Other more common problems, such as eating disorders, can be caused by issues with body image as well. Most issues with body image are relatively minor but can cause major dissatisfaction or depression in the long term. Depending on the severity of the problem and its specific manifestation, body image therapy may be needed to recover.
The most common body image disorders have to do with dissatisfaction with one's body. A person who suffers from negative or poor body image may be highly unhappy depending on how severe that dissatisfaction becomes. Many people desire to change their physical appearance, but unhealthy fixation on appearance can evolve into a serious disorder. Body image disorders of this type are often difficult to see in cultures where dissatisfaction is the norm.
People can also suffer from much more serious body image disorders in which a person's dissatisfaction with his or her body can result in very dangerous behaviors. A person who suffers from body dysmorphic disorder literally perceives his or her own body as disfigured. This is very different from a person who generally feels unattractive or struggles with weight. Body dysmorphic disorder is not a disease that can be resolved by making physical changes. No matter how much weight is gained or lost or how many plastic surgeries a person undergoes, a person with this disorder will always feel ugly.
The primary difference between types of body image disorders is where the problem originates. Issues with body image can be caused by social situations, but they can also be biological. In some cases, these issues arise as a result of another serious illness, such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Given the social aspect of body image disorders, different cultures often have different manifestations of these problems.
One of the most important things to remember about body image disorders is that rarely is the problem isolated to perceptions of the body. People who suffer from disorders of this type are generally affected in other areas of life as well. For example, people who engage in dangerous eating patterns to control the body are also often obsessed with control in other areas. Getting rid of the unhealthy body image may not resolve the underlying issue, as the obsessive tendency may simply get expressed in a different way.