Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Diagnosis

Diagnosing body dysmorphic disorder can be difficult, because its symptoms can be very similar to symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder as well as eating disorders. Also, when a child or adolescent has become acutely self-conscious about a particular minor or imagined physical flaw, it can be extremely difficult for her to reveal that “flaw” as the source of her depression, shame or anxiety. A combination of physical exams, laboratory tests and psychological evaluations are needed to properly diagnose body dysmorphic disorder. The symptoms required to diagnose your child with the disorder include not only being extremely preoccupied with a minor or imagined flaw in her appearance, but being so preoccupied that it causes her significant distress or problems in her home life, school life, or other areas of functioning. These feelings must be intrusive, unwanted, and difficult to resist or control.

Criteria for a diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder also include repetititve behaviors like checking the perceived flaw in the mirror, reassurance-seeking, excess grooming, and comparing her appearance to others. Most common age of onset is 12-13.