Online CBT therapy more effective for Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Study

Online CBT therapy more effective for Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Study

At times, some people get extremely conscious about their looks. Their obsession with a flawless appearance can force them to take an extreme step. The perceived sense of imperfection, at times imagined, pushes them into a state of fixation causing immense stress, thus interfering with their day-to-day activities. This forces the person to look for various cosmetic procedures to correct their perceived imperfections. This condition is termed as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia or dysmorphic syndrome. Originally it was known as dysmorphophobia.

A person suffering from BDD lacks self-esteem and undergoes severe emotional distress. Though the causes of the disorder are unclear, it affects men and women equally. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), approximately 1 percent of Americans fret over imagined or a slight defect in their appearance.

Study finds CBT effective in BDD

A recent study by the Karolinska Institute and Linkoping University in Sweden and King’s College London revealed that a therapist-guided cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) program conducted online (BDD-NET) is more effective for the treatment of BDD compared with online supportive therapy used worldwide. The study, titled “Therapist guided internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy for body dysmorphic disorder: single blind randomized controlled trial,” was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Stressing on the advantage of online CBT as more accessible and cost-effective for patients suffering from BDD, lead author Jesper Enander, clinical psychologist and doctoral candidate in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm told the Medscape Medical News, “It seems to be a promising option for many BDD sufferers who currently don’t have access to evidence-based treatment.”

The study was conducted on 94 self-referred adults diagnosed with BDD, who agreed for outpatient treatment programs. The detailed investigation was done with the objective to judge whether online CBT programs for treatment of BDD was as effective as online supportive therapy. Forty-seven patients were provided access to the CBT via the BDD-NET program comprising eight modules delivered by therapists and certain tasks allocated to patients that they had to do at home. The modules and assignments were prepared in a manner that allowed patients to face their feelings of dread and consternation associated with this disorder. Email contact of the therapist was provided to the participants so that they could email their queries and answers back and forth.

The remaining 47 patients were motivated to speak freely about their feelings and thought processes during the online supportive therapy. During the therapy, the participants were not allowed a one-to-one meeting with any therapist. The patients were followed up at the end of the three-month treatment and again after the end of the six-month curative procedure. Dr. Christian Rück of the Karolinska Institute, along with other co-authors wrote, “In a randomized controlled trial, the BDD-NET web-based CBT program was tied to a reduction in symptoms at both the end of the three-month treatment and at six months.”

Notable advances in severity of the symptoms and level of depression apart from an enhanced quality of life were observed in patients provided with the BDD-NET therapy. The improvements were pursued for a minimum of three months after the treatment.


The research found the BDD-NET to be superior to supportive therapy with patients in the latter group exhibiting better scores when administered BDD-NET at the completion of six months. Researchers added that the internet-based CBT program is more likely to encourage access to evidence-based psychiatric disorder for BDD.

Fighting the disorder

As the online CBT treatment can be easily administered to any BDD patient, this method is being highly accepted. If you are unable to accept your real self and are constantly depressed, it’s time to get in touch with the Texas Depression Treatment Helpline to know about the best treatment options available in your vicinity. You may call our 24/7 helpline at 866-827-0282 or chat online for further help.