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DSM-IV

Diagnostic Criteria

A. Preoccupation with an imagined defect in appearance. If a slight physical anomaly is present, the person's concern is markedly excessive.

B. The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

C. The preoccupation is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., dissatisfaction with body shape and size in Anorexia Nervosa).

Differential Diagnosis

Normal concerns about appearance

Unlike normal concerns about appearance, the preoccupation with appearance in Body Dysmorphic Disorder is excessively time consuming and associated with significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning. However, Body Dysmorphic Disorder may be underrecognized in settings in which cosmetic procedures are performed.

Other mental disorders

The diagnosis of Body Dysmorphic Disorder should not be made if the preoccupation is better accounted for by another mental disorder. Body Dysmorphic Disorder should not be diagnosed if the excessive preoccupation is restricted to concerns about "fatness" in Anorexia Nervosa, if the individual's preoccupation is limited to discomfort with or a sense of inappropriateness about his or her primary and secondary sex characteristics occurring in Gender Identity Disorder, or if the preoccupation is limited to mood-congruent ruminations involving appearance that occur exclusively during a Major Depressive Episode. Individuals with Avoidant Personality Disorder or Social Phobia may worry about being embarrassed by real defects in appearance, but this concern is usually not prominent, persistent, distressing, time consuming, and impairing. Although individuals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder have obsessional preoccupations about their appearance and may have associated compulsive behaviors (e.g., mirror checking), a separate diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is given only when the obsessions or compulsions are not restricted to concerns about appearance.

Delusional Disorder

Individuals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder can receive an additional diagnosis of Delusional Disorder, Somatic Type, if their preoccupation with an imagined defect in appearance is held with a delusional intensity.

Koro

Koro is a culture-bound syndrome that occurs primarily in Southeast Asia that may be related to Body Dysmorphic Disorder. It is characterized by the preoccupation that the penis is shrinking and will disappear into the abdomen, resulting in death. Koro differs from Body Dysmorphic Disorder by its usually brief duration, different associated features (primarily acute anxiety and fear of death), positive response to reassurance, and occasional occurrence as an epidemic.

DSM-5

Diagnostic Criteria

A. Preoccupation with one or more perceived defects or flaws in physical appearance that are not observable or appear slight to others.

B. At some point during the course of the disorder, the individual has performed repetitive behaviors (e.g., mirror checking, excessive grooming, skin picking, reassurance seeking) or mental acts (e.g., comparing his or her appearance with that of others) in response to the appearance concerns.

C. The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

D. The appearance preoccupation is not better explained by concerns with body fat or weight in an individual whose symptoms meet diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder.

Specify if:

  • With muscle dysmorphia: The individual is preoccupied with the idea that his or her body build is too small or insufficiently muscular. This specifier is used even if the individual is preoccupied with other body areas, which is often the case.

Specify if:

Indicate degree of insight regarding body dysmorphic disorder beliefs (e.g., "I look ugly" or "I look deformed").

  • With good or fair insight: The individual recognizes that the body dysmorphic disorder beliefs are definitely or probably not true or that they may or may not be true.
  • With poor insight: The individual thinks that the body dysmorphic disorder beliefs are probably true.
  • With absent insight/delusional beliefs: The individual is completely convinced that the body dysmorphic disorder beliefs are true.

Differential Diagnosis

Normal appearance concerns and clearly noticeable physical defects

Body dysmorphic disorder differs from normal appearance concerns in being characterized by excessive appearance-related preoccupations and repetitive behaviors that are time-consuming, are usually difficult to resist or control, and cause clinically significant distress or impairment in functioning. Physical defects that are clearly noticeable (i.e., not slight) are not diagnosed as body dysmorphic disorder. However, skin picking as a symptom of body dysmorphic disorder can cause noticeable skin lesions and scarring; in such cases, body dysmorphic disorder should be diagnosed.

Eating disorders

In an individual with an eating disorder, concerns about being fat are considered a symptom of the eating disorder rather than body dysmorphic disorder. However, weight concerns may occur in body dysmorphic disorder. Eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder can be comorbid, in which case both should be diagnosed.

Other obsessive-compulsive and related disorders

The preoccupations and repetitive behaviors of body dysmorphic disorder differ from obsessions and compulsions in OCD in that the former focus only on appearance. These disorders have other differences, such as poorer insight in body dysmorphic disorder. When skin picking is intended to improve the appearance of skin defects, body dysmorphic disorder, rather than excoriation (skin-picking) disorder, is diagnosed. When hair removal (plucking, pulling, or other types of removal) in intended to improve perceived defects in the appearance of facial or body hair, body dysmorphic disorder is diagnosed rather than trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder).

Illness anxiety disorder

Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder are not preoccupied with having or acquiring a serious illness and do not have particularly elevated levels of somatization.

Major depressive disorder

The prominent preoccupation with appearance and excessive repetitive behaviors in body dysmorphic disorder differentiate it from major depressive disorder. However, major depressive disorder and depressive symptoms are common in individuals with body dysmorphic disorder, often appearing to be secondary to the distress and impairment that body dysmorphic disorder causes. Body dysmorphic disorder should be diagnosed in depressed individuals if diagnostic criteria for body dysmorphic disorder is met.

Anxiety disorders

Social anxiety and avoidance are common in body dysmorphic disorder. However, unlike social anxiety disorder (social phobia), agoraphobia, and avoidant personality disorder, body dysmorphic disorder includes prominent appearance-related preoccupation, which may be delusional, and repetitive behaviors, and the social anxiety and avoidance are due to concerns about perceived appearance defects and the belief or fear that other people will consider these individuals ugly, ridicule them, or reject them because of their physical features. Unlike generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety and worry in body dysmorphic disorder focus on perceived appearance flaws.

Psychotic disorders

Many individuals with body dysmorphic disorder have delusional appearance beliefs (i.e., complete conviction that their view of their perceived defects is accurate), which is diagnosed as body dysmorphic disorder, with absent insight/delusional beliefs, not as delusional disorder. Appearance-related ideas or delusions of reference are common in body dysmorphic disorder; however, unlike schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, body dysmorphic disorder involves prominent appearance preoccupations and related repetitive behaviors, and disorganized behavior and other psychotic symptoms are absent (except for appearance beliefs, which may be delusional).

Other disorders and symptoms

Body dysmorphic disorder should not be diagnosed if the preoccupation is limited to discomfort with or a desire to be rid of one's primary and/or secondary sex characteristics in an individual with gender dysphoria or if the preoccupation focuses on the belief that one emits a foul or offensive body odor as in olfactory reference syndrome (which is not a DSM-5 disorder). Body identity integrity disorder (apotemnophilia) (which is not a DSM-5 disorder) involves a desire to have a limb amputated to correct an experience of mismatch between a person's sense of body identity and his or her actual anatomy. However, the concern does not focus on the limb's appearance, as it would in body dysmorphic disorder. Koro, a culturally related disorder that usually occurs in epidemics in Southeastern Asia, consists of a fear that the penis (labia, nipples, or breasts in females) is shrinking or retracting and will disappear into the abdomen, often accompanied by a belief that death will result. Koro differs from body dysmorphic disorder in several ways, including a focus on death rather than preoccupation with perceived ugliness. Dysmorphic concern (which is not a DSM-5 disorder) is a much broader construct than, and is not equivalent to, body dysmorphic disorder. It involves symptoms reflecting an overconcern with slight or imagined flaws in appearance.