Body focused repetitive disorders

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Body focused repetitive disorders

Psychological disorders

Bipolar and related disorders

Bipolar disorder

Feeding and eating disorders

Anorexia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa

Medication-induced movement disorders and other adverse effects of medication

Neuroleptic malignant syndrome

Serotonin syndrome

Somatic symptom and related disorders

Factitious disorder

Somatic symptom disorder

Trauma and stressor-related disorders; Abuse

Physical and sexual abuse

Post-traumatic stress disorder


Body focused repetitive disorders


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USMLE® Step 1 questions

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High Yield Notes

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Body focused repetitive disorders

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USMLE® Step 1 style questions USMLE

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A 17-year-old girl is brought to the physician by her mother due to recent hair loss. The mother tells the physician that she has noticed a gradual loss of hair on her daughter’s head over the past 3 months. The daughter is embarrassed by her appearance and always tries to cover her hair with a hat. When interviewed alone, the patient tells the physician she sometimes plucks hair off her head. She has tried multiple times to stop this behavior, but she has been unable to do so. She adds that she feels excessive stress before hair pulling that is resolved when she pulls her hair. Which of the following will be most likely seen on microscopic examination of the hair follicles and the scalp of this patient?



Body-focused repetitive disorders is an umbrella term in the DSM-5 for disorders where individuals compulsively damage their physical appearance.

These used to be classified as impulse-control disorders, but now belong in the family of obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Two of the more well-known ones are trichotillomania, which is a hair-pulling disorder, and excoriation, which is a skin-picking disorder.

Obsessive-compulsive disorders are usually defined by psychological obsessions—thoughts, urges, and images that are unwanted, intrusive, and recurrent—as well as behavioral compulsions exhibited physically in response to the obsessions.

For body-focused repetitive disorders, though, the self-damaging behavior isn’t usually related to a conscious psychological obsession, but occurs instead when a person feels stressed, anxious, or even bored.

Once a person starts engaging in the self-damaging behavior, there’s usually a strong urge to keep doing it over and over again.

This can happen in multiple short episodes throughout the day, or during single long sessions that can last for hours at a time.

People with body-focused repetitive disorders aren’t always fully aware of their behavior while engaged in the compulsion, making it difficult to stop.

These behaviors are distinct from intentional behaviors aimed at improving physical appearance, like plucking one’s eyebrows.

They’re also not attributable to problems stemming from disorders like substance abuse, like, for example, the skin-picking associated with amphetamine or cocaine use.

Body-focused repetitive disorders don’t include compulsions resulting from other mental disorders, like picking at skin during a tactile hallucination, when someone thinks bugs are crawling under their skin.

They’re unrelated to behaviours made in response to irritating stimuli from other illnesses, like scratching at an itchy scabies rash.


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