Has Hollywood's Diet Obsession Forced the US Government to Take Action?

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National Institute of Mental Health currently conducting a study regarding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Hollywood isn't the only place where unhealthy weight loss is developing into a crisis. BDD is similar to other disorders that respond well to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, including OCD. Dr. Allison Conner provides thoughts on the study.

Dr Allison Conner

CBT is particularly well suited and proven for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and given the similarities between BDD and OCD, behavioral therapy is highly likely to have a positive impact when properly applied and the patient is motivated.

In an ongoing study conducted by the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) new treatments for Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) are being carefully examined. BDD is a mental disorder in which and individual has an excessive fixation or preoccupation with a slight or imagined physical flaw that results in emotional and social distress. Often there is a fixation on weight loss, dieting, and a belief that one is fat when in fact one may be anorexic. The media buzz surrounding BDD has grown exponentially in recent years as Hollywood has reinforced the belief that "thin is in." The disease has high instances of comorbidity and is very often found in association with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

In its study, the NIMH is focusing on the benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for patients suffering from BDD. Cognitive Therapy is a state-of-the-art, highly effective approach to psychological treatment. It is essentially a method that identifies and helps a person to correct specific errors in what he or she is thinking that produces negative or painful feelings. These erroneous or distorted thoughts also influence the person on a behavioral level, and result in maladaptive choices or reactions. CBT helps to correct those thoughts through an intervention of an individual's thinking.

According to the NIMH website, the premise of the experiment is as follows: "Participants will be randomly assigned (like the flip of a coin) to either start CBT treatment immediately or to a waitlist group, which would require a 3-month wait without treatment before beginning treatment for this study. Participants have a 50-50 chance of being in either group. Participants will receive a total of 22 sessions of individual, manual-based CBT. The CBT sessions will occur weekly during the course of the study. During the sessions, participants will receive education about BDD and CBT, engage in activities that help them confront their BDD, learn new ways of thinking about body image, and learn relapse prevention techniques. Self-report scales will be used to assess participants."

New York Psychologist and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy expert, Dr. Allison Conner has commented on the upcoming study, saying, "CBT is particularly well suited and proven for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and given the similarities between BDD and OCD, behavioral therapy is highly likely to have a positive impact when properly applied and the patient is motivated."

The NIMH clinical trial website is at the following address:
NIMH

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Dr. Allison Conner of Cognitive Therapy Associates email Elizabeth Dillon at elizabeth.dillon @ cognitive-therapy-associates.com

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