Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If your doctor or mental health provider believes you may have body dysmorphic disorder or another mental illness, he or she typically runs a series of medical and psychological tests and exams to help pinpoint a diagnosis.

These exams and tests generally include:

  • Physical exam. This exam can help clarify other problems that may be associated with your symptoms.
  • Lab tests. Lab tests may be ordered by your doctor, depending on your overall health or other problems associated with your symptoms.
  • Psychological evaluation. A doctor or mental health provider talks to you about your symptoms, thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. You may also discuss any thoughts you may have of self-harm.

Pinpointing which condition you have

It can be difficult to diagnose body dysmorphic disorder, as it may be similar to or overlap with other psychological conditions, such as an eating disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Also, you may be so embarrassed about your appearance that you avoid medical help, don't reveal your true feelings to doctors or don't even realize that your body image is distorted. It can take some time and effort to get an accurate diagnosis so you can get appropriate treatment.

Diagnostic criteria for body dysmorphic disorder

To be diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder, you must meet the symptom criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental illnesses and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

Symptom criteria required for a diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder include:

  • Being extremely preoccupied with an imagined defect or a minor flaw in your appearance
  • Being so preoccupied with appearance that it causes you significant distress or problems in your social life, work, school or other areas of functioning
May 09, 2013