Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) designed specifically to address body dysmorphic disorder may be more effective for treating patients with the condition than more generalized supportive psychotherapy, a study in Depression and Anxiety suggests.
Hilary Weingarden, Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and colleagues analyzed data from 120 adults with body dysmorphic disorder who received 22 one-hour therapy sessions of either CBT or supportive psychotherapy over 24 weeks. CBT consisted of skills-based treatment that specifically addressed symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, whereas supportive psychotherapy consisted of nonspecific, nondirected treatment intended to support patients’ expression of emotions and use of adaptive coping skills more broadly.
The researchers evaluated the study participants using several measures, including the Yale‐Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale Modified for BDD (BDD‐YBOCS). Remission of body dysmorphic disorder was defined as a score of ≤16 on the BDD‐YBOCS.
At the end of 24 weeks, 68% of patients in the CBT group experienced remission of symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, compared with 42% in the supportive psychotherapy group. At six-month follow-up, 52% of patients in the CBT group had sustained remission, compared with 27% in the supportive psychotherapy group. Only 18% of those in the CBT group experienced no remission of their symptoms, compared with 45% of those in the supportive psychotherapy group.
“Remission rates following CBT are highly encouraging; these data fill a critical gap in the literature on efficacy outcomes for BDD [body dysmorphic disorder] psychotherapy,” the researchers wrote. “Clinicians may wish to inform prospective patients that following a 24-week course of CBT, they are likely to experience partial or full alleviation of BDD symptoms.”
For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Brief Update and Review on Treating Eating Disorders.”
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