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Prolonged medication prevents relapse in body dysmorphic disorder patients: Study

Prolonged medication prevents relapse in body dysmorphic disorder patients: Study

31 May | 0 Comments | By Arizona Mental Health Helpline Team

For some, the fixation of creating a flawless façade about themselves reaches such an extent that they are unable to think beyond any existing or non-existent flaw. Narcissism or the need to be admired by others has reached a point that any physical deformity fills the mind with self-doubt. But it is not always easy to attain an ideal state of the body or look faultless and incomparable.

The prolonged tendency to constantly fret over minor imperfections leading to major distress is considered a kind of mental illness known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Also called dysmorphophobia, BDD is characterized by a constant fear of having defects or flaws in appearance. The disorder is usually treated by doctors using a combination of pharmacological and cognitive behavioral therapies.

A recent study by the Rhode Island Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital suggested that BDD patients are more likely to be in a better position with diminished susceptibility of deterioration if treated with the necessary medication on an extended basis.

Prevention of relapse in patients suffering from BDD

The study, titled “Pharmacotherapy Relapse Prevention in Body Dysmorphic Disorder: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial,” says that those affected by BDD do not show the tendency to relapse if treated with medication on a long-term basis. Published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry in April 2016, the study focused on ways to control relapse in BDD patients, even after suspension of the medications.

Co-author of the study Dr. Katharine Phillips, director, BDD program at the Rhode Island Hospital, said, “This research yielded clinically important data about BDD, a common, often-chronic and understudied illness in need of more evidence-based treatment. We showed that the risk of relapse can be substantially reduced by continuing effective medication and also that the continuation of medication after the acute period can further improve symptoms.”

For the study, the researchers examined 100 adults suffering from BDD. Of these, 74 participated in phase one trial, under which they were administered escitalopram for 14 weeks. During the second phase of the recovery period, 58 respondents were randomly given double-blind continuation treatment with escitalopram versus some who were switched to placebo for six months. It was observed that the patients who took these medications during the treatment period showed  increased signs of recovery, and those who continued the medication for an additional six months showed further signs of improvement.

The researchers also found that the participants who benefitted from escitalopram and continued to take the medication had a lower probability to experience a deterioration in BDD symptoms, compared to those who had been switched from escitalopram to placebo.

Co-author of the study Dr. Sabine Wilhelm, director, OCD and related disorders program at the Massachusetts General Hospital, said, “Among patients who responded to acute-phase escitalopram, continued pharmacological treatment significantly delayed time to relapse compared to patients in the placebo group.”

Dr. Wilhelm added, “Further, more than twice as many placebo-treated patients relapsed than escitalopram-treated patients. This is important data for providers treating patients with BDD. Research studies are also needed that investigate whether treatment with CBT for BDD will decrease the risk of relapse when an effective medication is stopped.”

Path to recovery

The tendency of self-deprecating can be fatal, especially if it continues to be the governing factor in one’s life. A person who is preoccupied with his or her appearance is always under self-doubt that leads to constant worry.

If you or your loved one is struggling with any kind of mental illness, including BDD, you may get in touch with the Arizona Mental Health Helpline to know about mental health treatment centers in Arizona. Chat online with one of our experts today or call at the 24/7 helpline number 866-606-7791 for further information about various mental health disorder treatment centers in Arizona.

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