Medication and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

Some evidence – there is enough evidence to indicate that this can be a helpful treatment option.

Your professional might recommend that you try a medication called an SSRI if your symptoms have not improved after 12 weeks of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). SSRI medications were first used to treat depression, but they can also be helpful for BDD. 

If you have very severe symptoms then your professional might suggest that you start medication during your first 12 weeks of CBT. 

Fluoxetine is the type of SSRI medication usually recommended for BDD, but your professional might recommend a different type if they think it would work better for you (e.g. if they are concerned about you taking fluoxetine at the same time as other medications you’re already taking). If the SSRI medication hasn’t helped after 12 weeks then your professional might recommend an alternative type of SSRI or another medication called clomipramine.

What happens when I stop taking medication?

You and your professional should start discussing plans to stop your medication when your symptoms have been reduced for some time. Your professional should explain that your BDD symptoms could return and that you might experience withdrawal symptoms as your body responds to no longer taking the medication. You should contact your professional if you experience withdrawal symptoms or your BDD symptoms return.

To help avoid withdrawal symptoms, your professional should reduce your dose gradually over several weeks. You should still receive psychological treatment while you are reducing and stopping medication, as it could reduce the risk of your symptoms returning.

Treatments outlined on these webpages may not be available in every local area. It’s important that you discuss with your GP or mental health professional the treatment options available to you. You can also search for services near you on our Youth Wellbeing Directory and find out more about referral processes here.

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