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COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY FOR BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER

I’m a big fan of cognitive behavioral therapy. Working on recognizing and adjusting negative thought patterns can be an important part of healing for people with all kinds of mental health issues.

One application emerging in recent years is CBT for Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD.

People with BDD obsess over a perceived physical flaw. Maybe they are distressed about wrinkles or muscle size or  how their hair looks–the obsession can be about any body part, and the flaw is either small or imagined. As a result, they spend a lot of time looking in the mirror (or, alternatively, avoiding it), researching cosmetic surgery, working out, and/or trying to disguise or hide the flaw.

BDD quite often leads to shame, depression, and avoidance of social situations. It’s life disrupting and painful.

Last year a group of researchers published results from a study showing that cognitive behavioral therapy leads to significant improvement for patients with BDD. Then a few weeks ago, another group of scientists published a study echoing those findings, only with a specific application to teenage patients.

I love to see CBT, which can be tailored to any situation, turning lives around. In my experience, CBT works well in combination with medication, such as antipsychotics or antidepressants, depending on symptoms.

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