The Science Daily article, Body dysmorphic disorder patients who loathe appearance often get better, but it could take years, discusses the The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (JNMD) article (full reference below, abstract available for free).
The JNMD article reports the results of the longest-term study so far to track people with body dysmorphic disorder. The study was conducted by researchers at Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital.
The good news: the researcher “found high rates of recovery, although recovery can take more than five years.”
This is a small study with only 15 BDD patients who were followed over an eight-year span.
After statistical adjustments, the recovery rate for sufferers in the study over eight years was 76 percent and the recurrence rate was 14 percent. While a few sufferers recovered within two years, only about half had recovered after five years.
The subjects were a small group diagnosed with the disorder out of hundreds of people participating in the Harvard/Brown Anxiety Research Project (HARP). Study co-author Martin Keller, professor of psychiatry and human behavior and principal investigator of the HARP research program which has been ongoing for more than 20 years, said that because the BDD sufferers were identified through this broader anxiety study, rather than being recruited specifically because they had been diagnosed with BDD, they generally had more subtle cases of the disorder than people in other BDD studies. In comparing the HARP study with the prior longitudinal study of BDD, it is possible that the high recovery rate in the HARP study is due to participants having less severe BDD on average.
In its simplest definition, it is an obsessive preoccupation with a slight, imperceptible, or actually nonexistent anatomic irregularity to the degree that it interferes with normal adjustment within society.
This disorder may be present in varying degrees. It is the most common aberrant personality characteristic seen by the plastic surgeon.
When postoperative dissatisfaction occurs (and in most cases, it will), it almost always is based on what the patient understood rather than what was actually said.
Suitability (January 3, 2008)
The Barbie Syndrome (March 25, 2010)
The Clinical Course of Body Dysmorphic Disorder in the Harvard/Brown Anxiety Research Project (HARP); Andri S. Bjornsson, Ingrid Dyck, Ethan Moitra, Robert L. Stout, Risa B. Weisberg, Martin B. Keller, Katharine A. Phillips; The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 2011; 199 (1): 55 DOI: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31820448f7
Body Dysmorphic Disorder; eMedicine Article, September 3, 2010; Iqbal Ahmed, MBBS and Lawrence Genen, MD, MBA