What Is The General Approach to Treating Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?
MoodRx Clinical Staff - 2024-03-02

What Is The General Approach to Treating Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?

What Is The General Approach to Treating Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition characterized by obsessive preoccupation with perceived flaws or defects in one's appearance, which are often minor or nonexistent. Here are some of the best ways to treat body dysmorphic disorder:

  1. Psychoeducation: Provide education about body dysmorphic disorder, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options. Help individuals understand that BDD is a recognized mental health condition and that they are not alone in their struggles.
  2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is the most widely researched and effective treatment for BDD. It focuses on helping individuals identify and challenge distorted thoughts and beliefs about their appearance, develop healthier body image perceptions, and learn coping strategies to manage anxiety and compulsive behaviors.
  3. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP): ERP is a specific type of CBT that involves gradual exposure to feared situations or stimuli related to body image concerns (e.g., mirrors, photographs) while refraining from engaging in compulsive behaviors (e.g., excessive grooming, seeking reassurance). Over time, exposure to these triggers helps reduce anxiety and avoidance behaviors.
  4. Mindfulness-Based Therapies: Mindfulness-based therapies, such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), can help individuals develop greater awareness of their thoughts and emotions related to body image concerns and learn to accept themselves nonjudgmentally.
  5. Medication: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or other antidepressant medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of anxiety or depression commonly associated with BDD. However, medication alone is typically not sufficient for treating BDD and is often used in conjunction with psychotherapy.
  6. Support Groups: Encourage individuals with BDD to participate in support groups or therapy groups with others who have similar experiences. Connecting with peers who understand their struggles can provide validation, empathy, and encouragement.
  7. Addressing Avoidance Behaviors: Help individuals identify and gradually confront avoidance behaviors related to their body image concerns. Encourage them to gradually expose themselves to situations that trigger anxiety while refraining from compulsive behaviors.
  8. Body Image Exposure: Use structured exercises to help individuals confront and challenge their negative body image perceptions. This may involve activities such as mirror exposure, photograph exposure, or guided imagery exercises focused on body acceptance.
  9. Building Self-Esteem and Resilience: Help individuals build self-esteem and resilience by focusing on their strengths, talents, and positive qualities unrelated to appearance. Encourage them to engage in activities that bring joy and fulfillment and to cultivate meaningful relationships and connections.
  10. Collaborative Care: Work collaboratively with other healthcare providers, such as dermatologists or plastic surgeons, to provide coordinated care for individuals with BDD. Collaboration can help ensure that treatment approaches are aligned and that individuals receive comprehensive support for their mental health needs.


It's important to approach treatment for body dysmorphic disorder with empathy, patience, and understanding. Recovery from BDD is possible with appropriate treatment and support. By providing evidence-based therapies, addressing avoidance behaviors, promoting self-acceptance and resilience, and collaborating with other healthcare providers, individuals with BDD can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.