The Presentation of Body Dysmorphic Disorder in Medical Settings

Prim psychiatry. 2006 Jul;13(7):51-59.


Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a relatively common psychiatric illness that often presents to mental health professionals as well as nonpsychiatric physicians. However, BDD usually goes unrecognized and undiagnosed in clinical settings. It is important to recognize and accurately diagnose BDD because this often secret illness may be debilitating. Patients with BDD typically have markedly impaired functioning, notably poor quality of life, and a high rate of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Thus, it is important to screen patients for BDD and avoid misdiagnosing it as another illness. Nonpsychiatric treatments (eg, dermatologic, surgical), which most patients seek and receive, appear ineffective for BDD and can be risky for physicians to provide. This article provides a clinically focused overview of BDD, including its symptoms, morbidity, case examples, nonpsychiatric (ie, cosmetic) treatment, diagnostic "do's" and "don'ts," and suggestions for how to persuade patients to accept appropriate psychiatric care.