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Deadly Disorder: Imagined-ugliness illness yields high suicide rate

The suicide rate among people with a psychiatric disorder that causes them to perceive themselves as ugly is higher than that among people with major depression, says a new report.

Over the course of a 4-year study, 2 of 185 patients with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) committed suicide. That's twice the suicide rate in severely depressed people and 45 times that expected in a general population of the same age, sex, and geographic characteristics, says a research team led by Katharine Phillips of Butler Hospital in Providence, R.I., in the July American Journal of Psychiatry.

People with BDD form a debilitating obsession with some aspect of their appearance—nose size, scars, or body build, for example. The blemish on which they focus may be a delusion or may go unnoticed by other people. Still, patients with BDD often groom for hours a day, and some undergo cosmetic surgery only to wind up unhappy with the results.

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