Weight-obsessed syndrome is characterized by an excessive and persistent obsession with gaining weight, being overweight, and losing a slim appearance. People with this syndrome always have extreme weight loss behaviors in order to maintain an ideal weight.
What is weight phobia (fear of weight gain)?
Weight Obsession Disorder is a term referring to a form of psychological disorder in which the patient is overly concerned with weight and body shape. People with this syndrome pay attention to their weight every day and they are overly obsessed with weight gain, lack of toned and slim body. The obsession with gaining weight leads to extreme behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, fasting, over-exercising, etc.
Weight phobia is associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder and some eating disorders such as binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, or anorexia nervosa. food malabsorption disorder due to avoidance. Experts say that being overly obsessed with weight and body shape causes feelings of anxiety, which in turn prompts patients to engage in behaviors in an effort to lose weight and maintain a fit body.
These behaviors are often negative in nature and this is the reason people with weight gain syndrome have eating disorders. Besides, the patient also has some other extreme behaviors to maintain the desired body weight and physique. With the strictness of society, the proportion of people with this syndrome tends to increase significantly in recent years.
According to statistics, weight obsession affects more women. Meanwhile, men are less likely to develop this syndrome. In addition, people in their late teens and early adulthood are at higher risk. This syndrome is a form of psychological disorder, completely not the fear of normal weight gain, so it needs to be examined and treated to avoid long-term consequences.
Signs of fear of gaining weight
The syndrome of fear of weight gain has many manifestations, but in general, patients always express fear about gaining weight, being chubby and losing their slim body. Excessive obsession causes the sufferer to avoid many situations in life and to engage in extreme behaviors to maintain body weight. This has a huge impact on quality of life, including education, career, relationships, and health.
Common signs in people with weight gain syndrome:
- Permanent obsession with weight, physique, body shape and sometimes even appearance (including skin, hair, nails, …)
- Check your weight several times a day to make sure you’re not gaining weight. If there are signs of weight gain, the patient will have feelings of anxiety, insecurity, and stress. This urges to perform behaviors to consume excess energy to regain the same shape as before.
- Carefully calculate the number of calories in each meal.
- Some people may experience eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, etc.
- Admiring and being attracted to people with good bodies.
- People with weight gain syndrome always think that their body is quite chubby, ugly and does not match the beauty standards of society.
- The patient has some extreme behaviors in order to have the desired physique such as using diuretics, laxatives, self-induced vomiting after eating, long-term dieting, excessive exercise, etc. These behaviors help the patient keep a slim figure but cause a lot of health effects.
- Avoid meeting friends because you feel insecure about yourself.
- Excessive obsession with weight makes the patient always worried, stressed, tired, depressed, etc. In addition, if the patient does not have the desired physique, the patient may become grumpy and irritable. and easily excitable.
- Spend a lot of time researching the diet menu and exercise regime to own the desired physique. Excessive preoccupation with appearance and physique causes patients to neglect school, work, and other aspects of life.
In addition to the above symptoms, people with weight-obsessed syndrome also face a number of consequences due to extreme weight loss behaviors such as hair loss, dark skin, brittle nails, body fatigue, etc. Depression is a major factor in increasing anxiety and stress levels caused by this syndrome. Therefore, many patients with agoraphobia face other mental disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders.
Causes of weight obsession syndrome
Until now, experts have not determined the cause of weight obsession syndrome. However, through many studies, experts have found that this syndrome is related to psychosocial factors. In particular, weight phobia often develops in people with pre-existing psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.
Identified factors associated with weight obsessive syndrome:
- Strict beauty standards: Most countries have strict standards of beauty for women but are always relaxed for men. Women who have a disproportionate figure and are different from society’s standards will face unfriendly eyes, criticism and criticism. It is the strict standards that have caused many women to be overly obsessed with their weight and body defects.
- Family influences: Children can also suffer from weight phobia because their parents or other relatives have this disease. Because children are young, they are easily influenced by the thoughts and behavior of others. If the family is too concerned about weight, the child will also grow up with an obsession with body and always strive to lose weight.
- Job factors: In society, some professions will face strict standards of appearance such as singers, models, actors, ballet dancers, circus performers, etc. Having to lose weight causes some people to be overly obsessed with weight and have symptoms of fear of gaining weight.
- Weight-related traumatic events: Studies show that people who have experienced weight-related trauma such as body shaming, criticism, and isolation. due to an ugly body, being sexually abused, abandoned, etc. will have a high chance of developing weight-obsessed syndrome. When experiencing the above psychological trauma, the patient will blame the weight and body for such things. Therefore, they are constantly trying to lose weight with the most extreme ways.
Overall, the pathogenesis of weight-obsessed syndrome has not been elucidated. However, it can be confirmed that this syndrome is related to psychosocial factors. In addition to the above reasons, experts also found that some of the following subjects are at high risk of weight gain syndrome, including:
- Family history of weight phobia (blood relatives)
- There are mental disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, etc.
- Perfectionist, always aiming for perfection.
- People who attach too much importance to their appearance are also more likely to get the disease.
- Women are more likely to suffer from weight gain syndrome than men. The reason is that women have to face strict standards from society while for men, society has almost no physical standards.
- Adolescents and early adulthood are at higher risk. The reason identified by experts is that at this time, there are many sudden changes in psycho-physiology and the patient himself does not have a deep awareness of himself and life. Therefore, they are easily influenced by the concept of good and bad instead of paying attention to other sustainable values.
How does weight obsession syndrome affect health?
To date, the understanding of weight obsessive syndrome is still quite limited. Many people confuse this syndrome with the usual fear of weight gain. However, weight obsession is a mental disorder that needs to be examined and treated. If left for a long time, this syndrome will cause countless effects on health and quality of life.
The effects of weight obsessive syndrome:
- Extreme weight loss behaviors such as using diuretics, laxatives, dieting, exercising excessively, etc. will make health worse. Patients will face weakness, anemia, hair loss, sleep disturbances, etc.
- Difficulty concentrating when studying and working due to paying too much attention to appearance.
- Avoiding situations will cause the patient to lose close relationships and have difficulty maintaining long-term relationships.
- Increased mental disorders such as anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, etc.
- Some sufferers feel so distressed that they cannot control their own weight. They begin to think about death and commit suicide.
How to overcome weight obsessive syndrome
Weight-obsessed syndrome is a fairly common mental disorder in women. This syndrome can be treated with medication and psychotherapy. In addition, the patient himself also needs to make efforts and actively take some self-improvement measures to overcome this disease.
1. Self-improvement measures
In the case of mild weight phobia, the patient can apply some self-improvement methods. In fact, quite a few patients realize their own abnormality but cannot control the feeling of anxiety when gaining weight. The following measures will partly help patients reduce their weight concerns and lead a healthier lifestyle.
Self-improvement measures for weight obsession syndrome:
- Understanding the effects of weight gain phobia: First, patients need to be equipped with an understanding of weight phobia and know the heavy impact of their own extreme behaviors. When aware of the effects of this syndrome, the patient will be motivated to change and overcome the disease.
- Share with family and friends: Instead of keeping worries and obsessions, patients should share with others the problems they are facing. Encouragement and comfort from people around will help the patient know that, whether he is fat or ugly, he will still have a solid support from family and close friends. In addition, advice from people will also help patients gradually change their thinking about beauty, appearance and get rid of the strict standards of society.
- Take more pictures: In the eyes of people with weight-obsessed syndrome, they always think of themselves as overweight and exceeding the standard. However, in reality their bodies are completely normal and sometimes slimmer than others. Taking pictures with everyone will help patients more objectively assess their own body shape and reduce the obsession with weight gain.
- Learn to relax, reduce stress: Excessive obsession with weight gain makes patients always stressed, anxious, depressed, etc. Therefore, it is advisable to equip yourself with relaxation therapies such as meditation, exercise. gentle exercise, playing with pets, cooking, aromatherapy and herbal teas. These measures will help balance emotions and help prevent depression and anxiety disorders.
People with weight obsession syndrome often have a distorted view of beauty and are too harsh on themselves. To overcome this syndrome, the patient will receive psychotherapeutic intervention. Psychotherapy is an effective method in treating many psychological and psychiatric problems such as anxiety disorders, depression, Self-harm syndrome, bipolar disorder, etc.
First, psychotherapy helps the patient to release negative emotions. After that, the specialist will offer appropriate interventions to help the patient change misconceptions about beauty and know how to correct extreme weight loss behaviors. Experts will also guide patients on scientific, healthy and non-harmful weight loss measures.
Psychotherapy is applied to patients with weight-obsessed syndrome:
- EMDR therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Family therapy
In addition, psychotherapy also brings many benefits to co-morbid mental disorders such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, etc. with weight-obsessed syndrome. However, the treatment process only brings positive results if the patient accepts himself as having the disease and is active in the treatment process.
Currently, there is no specific drug for weight phobia. However, the patient will be considered to use some drugs to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, … caused by this syndrome. Besides, the use of drugs also helps to lift the spirit and increase the effectiveness of psychotherapy.
Patients with weight-obsessed syndrome may also require certain medications to treat physical problems caused by extreme weight-loss behaviors. The type of medication prescribed depends entirely on the symptoms, age, and response of each specific case.
Weight-obsessed syndrome is one of the psychological problems that is gaining popularity in recent years. Therefore, being equipped with knowledge about the causes, symptoms and treatment is extremely necessary. When you find yourself showing signs of this syndrome, you should actively seek help to avoid long-term consequences.