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A Retrospective Review of Clinical Characteristics and Treatment Response in Body Dysmorphic Disorder Versus Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62:67-72

Background: Although body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) has many features in common with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and is frequently comorbid with OCD, few studies have directly compared the 2 disorders. Although BDD and OCD respond to similar medications and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), their response to treatment has never been directly compared.

Method: We studied 107 consecutive patients with DSM-III-R OCD (N = 96) or BDD (N = 11) treated openly for 6 weeks with intensive CBT, medication, and psychosocial rehabilitation, in a specialized partial hospitalization program for severely ill OCD patients. All patients were assessed, before and after treatment, with the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D), Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety (HAM-A), and Global Assessment Scale (GAS). Retrospectively, we compared the clinical characteristics, symptom severity, and response to treatment of BDD patients with those of OCD patients.

Results: BDD patients and OCD patients had similar sex ratio, age, treatment duration, prevalence of comorbid major depression, and pretreatment Y-BOCS and GAS scores. BDD patients had significantly higher pretreatment HAM-D and HAM-A scores. The proportions of patients treated with serotonin reuptake inhibitors and antipsychotics did not differ between groups. Both groups improved with treatment, with significant (p < .001) changes in Y-BOCS, HAM-D, HAM-A, and GAS scores. Change in Y-BOCS did not differ between groups, but changes in HAM-D and HAM-A were significantly greater in BDD patients than in OCD patients.

Conclusion: While BDD may be associated with greater severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms than OCD, this study suggests that BDD may respond to intensive, multimodal treatment.