Treating BDD

With treatment, many people with BDD will experience an improvement in their symptoms.

The specific treatments recommended for you will depend on how severely BDD affects your daily life.

If you have relatively mild BDD, you will usually be referred for a talking treatment called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) . More severe cases may be treated with a type of medication called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and/or more intensive CBT.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. You'll work with the therapist to agree on some goals for example, one aim may be to stop obsessively checking your appearance.

An important element of CBT for treating BDD is known as graded exposure and response prevention (ERP). This involves facing situations where you would normally think obsessively about your appearance, so you are able to gradually cope better with these situations over time.

As part of your therapy, you may also be given some self-help materials to use at home and you may be invited to participate in some group work.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs are a type of  antidepressant that increase the levels of a chemical called serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a chemical that the brain uses to transmit information from one brain cell to another.

A number of different SSRIs are available, but most people with BDD will be prescribed a course of fluoxetine.

Your medication should be taken daily and it may take 12 weeks before it has an effect. If it's effective, this treatment should continue for at least 12 months, to allow for further improvements and prevent a relapse.

When the treatment is complete and your symptoms are under control, the SSRI dose should be reduced gradually to minimise the possibility of withdrawal symptoms.

Common  side effects of SSRIs  include headaches , feeling agitated or shaky, and feeling sick. However, these will often pass within a few weeks.

Adults younger than 30 will need to be carefully monitored when taking SSRIs, because of the potential increased risk of suicidal thoughts and self-harm associated with the early stages of treatment.

Further treatment

If SSRIs aren't effective in improving your symptoms, you may be prescribed a different type of antidepressant called clomipramine.

In some cases of BDD that are particularly difficult to treat, you may be referred to The National OCD/BDD service in London.

This service offers assessment and treatment to people with BDD who have not responded to treatments that are available from their local and regional specialist services.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018