Researchers Find Patients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder Often Improve but Recovery Can Take Years

Body dysmorphic disorder is a type of mental illness that is ruthless to sufferers and causes them to obsess constantly over nonexistent or even slight defects in physical appearance, according to researchers. The results of a recent long term study tracked 15 sufferers of this disease through the course of eight years.

According to Science Daily, this was the longest study done to date on body dysmorphic disorder. Researchers were surprised to find that the recovery rate was alarmingly high for the disorder and there was a low rate of recurrence throughout the study. After adjustments in statistics from a prior study, it was found the recovery rate for those who suffered over the eight year period was 76 percent and the rate of recurrence was only 14 percent. A few of those patients did recover within a two year period but only close to half recovered past the five year mark.

The Harvard/Brown Anxiety Research Project, or HARP, had hundreds of participants in this study but only a small group of subjects were diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder. Martin Keller, a study co-author and professor and principal investigator of HARP research program, says the study has been going on for over two decades.

Keller says those with body dysmorphic disorder were singled out through this broad study instead of being specifically recruited due to their disorder. Generally, the participants had more understated cases of body dysmorphic disorder than those in other studies of the disorder. While comparing the HARP study with a prior longitudinal body dysmorphic disorder study, it brings up the possibility that the high rate of recovery in the HARP study may be due to those participants having a less severe case of the disorder .

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