Participate in BDD Studies

*This study is currently on hold.  We are not recruiting research subjects at this time.


(IRB # 061303)

Principal Investigator: 
Sanjaya Saxena, M.D. 
Associate Professor, UCSD Department of Psychiatry
Director, UCSD Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders Program

Dr. Sanjaya Saxena, director of the UCSD Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders Program, is conducting a research study to identify abnormalities of brain structure and function in individuals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, compared to other people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and volunteers with no psychiatric disorder, and to determine how brain function may change with effective treatment. This study is sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health. Study participants will receive:

  • Brain imaging, which is a way of taking pictures of brain structure and function through techniques called positron emission tomography (PET) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

  • 12 weeks of treatment with venlafaxine (Effexor XR) an FDA approved medication (no placebos).

  • Neuropsychological testing, which includes testing of your attention, memory, thinking, and decision-making, before and after treatment.


To participate, you must either live in or near San Diego, or be able to travel easily to our center for all procedures and treatment appointments. Participants must meet the inclusion criteria for this study:

  • Meet DSM-IV criteria for a primary diagnosis of OCD or BDD.

  • Between the ages of 18-65

  • Free of all psychotropic medications for at least 4 weeks (and at least 5 weeks for long half-life medications such as fluoxetine) prior to initiating the study.

  • All subjects must be considered clinically appropriate for primary treatment with venlafaxine by the study physician.

  • All subjects must be fluent in English and competent to sign informed consent.

Individuals will be excluded from participation if they:

  • Are currently taking medications that affect brain function, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, antipsychotics, certain antihypertensives, insulin, thyroid medication, etc.

  • Have bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, autism, mental retardation, or an eating disorder.

  • Have a neurological disorder, such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, traumatic brain injury, or dementia.

  • Have a history of chronic alcohol or substance use.

  • Weigh over 280 pounds.

There is NO monetary compensation for this study.

If interested, please contact Dr. Jennifer Sumner at (858) 334-4638.

For clinical treatment, please contact:
UCSD Obsessive - Compulsive Disorders Clinic
5060 Shoreham Place, Suite 200
San Diego, CA  92122
(858) 334-4640