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Effectiveness of Pharmacotherapy for Body Dysmorphic Disorder: A Chart-Review Study

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(9):721-727

Background: Research on the pharmacotherapy of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is limited. No placebo-controlled, continuation, maintenance, or discontinuation studies have been published. Only one augmentation study has been published.

Method: In this chart-review study of 90 patients with DSM-IV BDD treated for up to 8 years by the first 2 authors (K.A.P., R.S.A.) in their clinical practice, response to a variety of medications, including augmentation strategies, was assessed. The relapse rate with medication discontinuation was also determined.

Results: All subjects received a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI), with 63.2% (55/87) of adequate SRI trials resulting in improvement in BDD symptoms; similar response rates were obtained for each type of SRI. Discontinuation of an effective SRI resulted in relapse in 83.8% (31/37) of cases. Response rates to selective SRI augmentation were clomipramine, 44.4% (4/9) of trials; buspirone, 33.3% (12/36) of trials; lithium, 20.0% (1/5); methylphenidate, 16.7% (1/6); and antipsychotics, 15.4% (2/13) of trials.

Conclusion: These findings from a clinical setting suggest that a majority of BDD patients improve with an SRI and that all SRIs appear effective. Certain SRI augmentation strategies may be beneficial. The high relapse rate with SRI discontinuation suggests that long-term treatment is often necessary. These preliminary findings require confirmation in placebo-controlled efficacy studies and effectiveness studies.