By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We would like to think that in the past few decades we have made most of our major medical advances, but centuries of scientific work and close observation has led to much of what we know.

Take, for instance, a strange condition called body dysmorphic disorder. The problem was first identified back in 1891 by an Italian physician but it has only been officially recognized in the United States since 1987.

The condition is different than eating disorders. In body dysmorphic disorder, a person is preoccupied with an imagined deficit in the appearance of one or more body parts. Many of these people go to cosmetic surgeons hoping to have the problem corrected, but surgery rarely is the answer.

The good news is if the problem is recognized, many of the treatments we use for depression can help control it.