Treatment for body dysmorphic disorder often includes a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medications.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy for body dysmorphic disorder focuses on:
- Helping you learn how negative thoughts, emotional reactions and behaviors maintain problems over time
- Challenging automatic negative thoughts about your body image and learning a more flexible and realistic way of thinking
- Learning alternate ways to handle urges or rituals to help reduce mirror checking or reassurance seeking
- Teaching you other behaviors to improve your mental health
You and your therapist can talk about your goals for therapy and develop a personalized treatment plan to learn and strengthen coping skills.
Although there are no medications specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat body dysmorphic disorder, medications used to treat other mental disorders, such as depression, can be effective.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Because body dysmorphic disorder is thought to be caused in part by problems related to the brain chemical serotonin, SSRIs may be prescribed. SSRIs appear to be more effective for body dysmorphic disorder than other antidepressants and may help control your obsessions and repetitive behaviors.
- Other medications. In some cases, you may benefit from taking other medications in addition to an SSRI, depending on your symptoms.
In some cases, your body dysmorphic disorder symptoms may be so severe that you require psychiatric hospitalization. This is generally recommended only when you aren't able to keep up with day-to-day responsibilities or when you're in immediate danger of harming yourself.