Fighting with the Mirror

People suffering from poor body image can recover, study finds

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Patients studied by Brown University and the Rhode Island Hospital suffering from body dysmorphic disorder have shown real improvement in an eight-year span.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a serious mental illness, affects about one percent of Americans. Sufferers obsess over parts of their body they deem imperfect and stress over existent or nonexistent "defects." Extreme actions taken by patients include excessive plastic surgery and even bulimia.

BDD affects men and women equally and is often linked to other mental disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder. Eating disorders are also commonly related.

Researchers from Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital have found that recovery is possible, but it takes several years. 15 patients were studied over the course of 8 years; 76 percent showed recovery while 14 percent saw recurring symptoms. Most of them took around five years to recover.

One of the authors adds that the results may be so positive due to the participants having less severe forms of BDD.

The main hopes in doing this study were to provide more insight into the disorder, highlighting its status as a legitimate mental illness that needs to be dealt with more commonly with treatment.

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Review Date: 
January 11, 2011
Last Updated:
January 12, 2011