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Online treatment could help those suffering from anxiety disorders in Havering

PUBLISHED: 15:51 04 November 2016 | UPDATED: 13:52 21 November 2016

A former Queen's hospital clinical psychologist who now works privately as a consultant said there are lots of reasons why online therapy works well with patients battling anxiety disorders in their early stages.

“E-health is a hot topic and it’s here to stay,” she said

“Not least because of its effectiveness, ease of use, low cost and anonymity which helps people avoid stigmatisation.

Dr Patapia Tzotzoli heads up a project that aims to assist students in higher education with mild to moderate psychological difficulties and academic difficulties via an online support system, called MePlusMe.

She said that online treatments can be beneficial because, participants find it easier to engage faster which in turn facilitates treatment.

“We know that many people with BDD feel ashamed or embarrassed and thus do not seek help or do so after a long time of suffering from this disorder,” she said.

“Therefore people with BDD might be more prone to seek and engage with an online treatment quicker than they would with alternative treatment options.”

“There are platforms that deliver online psychological therapies and they mainly use internet-based CBT or problem solving therapy (PST), yet not all are recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

(NICE).”

Ciaran White, events co-ordinator at Havering Mind, developed BDD in his 20s and described the condition as like being trapped in a fairground of mirrors.

He became obsessed with how he looked and the illness drove him to take extreme actions including liposuction and tanning injections – all without his family knowing.

“I think that online BDD therapy tools could be an effective way of treating BDD in people with mild or ‘low symptoms’, he said.

“It would definitely be a great resource to use in the early stages of the illness developing, as I am assuming there would be no waiting times for treatment and it would bypass the need to have a face to face meeting with someone which can be anxiety provoking.”

However Ciaran thought that online therapy would not be enough in all cases and every person’s experience of mental health problems is different.

“BDD can cross a line where symptoms, compulsions and behaviours can become more extreme and so embedded in a person’s life, that professional treatment via face to face methods would more than likely become inevitable in order for the patient to get better,” he said.

“Everyone’s experience of any mental health problem is different so treatments do have to be tailored and personalised to the individual. All in all, any new treatment method for BDD, which clearly has had positive results is a good thing.”

■ Visit: myprivatetherapy.clinic.com

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