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COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Body dysmorphic disorder: does it have a psychotic subtype?

S L McElroy, K A Phillips, P E Keck, J I Hudson, H G Pope
Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 1993, 54 (10): 389-95
8262881

BACKGROUND: Although body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is classified in DSM-III-R as a nonpsychotic somatoform disorder, controversy exists as to whether BDD can present with psychotic features. If it can, this raises the possibility that its DSM-III-R psychotic counterpart-delusional disorder, somatic type--may not be a separate disorder. The purpose of this study was to determine whether patients with nonpsychotic BDD (defined according to DSM-III-R criteria, i.e., with maintenance of some insight) were different from patients with psychotic BDD (those whose preoccupation was without insight and of delusional intensity).

METHOD: Fifty consecutive patients meeting DSM-III-R criteria A and C for BDD were assessed with a semistructured interview and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID). Family histories of psychiatric disorders were blindly assessed. The 24 patients with nonpsychotic BDD were compared with the 26 patients with psychotic BDD with respect to demographics, phenomenology, course of illness, associated features, comorbid psychiatric disorders, family history, and treatment response.

RESULTS: Patients with psychotic BDD displayed a significantly higher rate of lifetime DSM-III-R psychotic disorder diagnoses than patients with nonpsychotic BDD. However, the two groups did not differ significantly on most other variables examined. For instance, both psychotic and nonpsychotic patients displayed significant morbidity; high comorbidity with mood, anxiety, and psychoactive substance use disorders; and apparent preferential response to serotonin reuptake inhibitors rather than to non-serotonin reuptake blocking antidepressants or antipsychotics.

CONCLUSION: Body dysmorphic disorder may have a closely related psychotic subtype that significantly overlaps with, or may even be the same disorder as, the BDD variant of delusional disorder, somatic type. Inclusion of a psychotic subtype for BDD should be considered for future editions of DSM.

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