A Review of Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Its Presentation in Different Clinical Settings



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Objective: Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a relatively common psychiatric disorder characterized by preoccupations with perceived defects in physical appearance. This review aimed to explore epidemiology, clinical features, comorbidities, and treatment options for BDD in different clinical settings.

Data Source and Study Selection: A search of the literature from 1970 to 2011 was performed using the MEDLINE search engine. English-language articles, with no restriction regarding the type of articles, were identified using the search terms body dysmorphic disorder, body dysmorphic disorder clinical settings, body dysmorphic disorder treatment, and body dysmorphic disorder & psychodermatology.

Results: BDD occurs in 0.7% to 2.4% of community samples and 13% of psychiatric inpatients. Etiology is multifactorial, with recent findings indicating deficits in visual information processing. There is considerable overlap between BDD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in symptom etiology and response to treatment, which has led to suggestions that BDD can be classified with anxiety disorders and OCD. A recent finding indicated genetic overlap between BDD and OCD. Over 60% of patients with BDD had a lifetime anxiety disorder, and 38% had social phobia, which tends to predate the onset of BDD. Studies reported a high level of comorbidity with depression and social phobia occurring in > 70% of patients with BDD. Individuals with BDD present frequently to dermatologists (about 9%–14% of dermatologic patients have BDD). BDD co-occurs with pathological skin picking in 26%–45% of cases. BDD currently has 2 variants: delusional and nondelusional, and both variants respond similarly to serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), which may have effect on obsessive thoughts and rituals. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has the best established treatment results.

Conclusions: A considerable overlap exists between BDD and other psychiatric disorders such as OCD, anxiety, and delusional disorder, and this comorbidity should be considered in evaluation, management, and long-term follow-up of the disorder. Individuals with BDD usually consult dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons rather than psychiatrists. Collaboration between different specialties (such as primary care, dermatology, cosmetic surgery, and psychiatry) is required for better treatment outcome.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2013;15(4): doi:10.4088/PCC.12r01464

Submitted: September 10, 2012; accepted February 22, 2013.

Published online: July 18, 2013.

Corresponding author: Mohammad Jafferany, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Central Michigan University, College of Medicine, East Campus, 1000 Houghton Ave, Saginaw, MI 48602 (mjafferany@yahoo.com).

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2013;15(4):doi:10.4088/PCC.12r01464