Eating disorders are known as ‘process’, or behavioural, addictions. There are three main types of eating disorder: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and compulsive overeating. While these differ from one another in various ways, all sufferers share a disturbance in the perception of body shape, which is closely tied to self-image. In addition, sufferers of eating disorders seem to be desperately trying to cope with anxiety and feel in control of their lives. Risk factors for developing an eating disorder include participation in activities that promote thinness, such as ballet dancing, modelling and athletics. Eating disorders are also associated with quite defined personality traits.
These include low self-esteem, difficulty resolving conflict, difficulty expressing negative emotions and perfectionism. The role of family history in the development of eating disorders is unclear. Some twin studies demonstrate a strong link, whereas others demonstrate no correlation. A family history of mood disorders in a first-degree relative also might be a risk factor. Whether the processes are restrictive (anorexia nervosa), via either calorie restriction or use of inappropriate compensatory strategies for getting rid of unwanted calories (over-exercise; purging); or involve episodes of bingeing and purging (bulimia); or ongoing and compulsive overeating; there will be a pathological relationship with food whose main payoff is to enable the avoidance of underlying emotional distress.
At Start2Stop, we will do outpatient work with people suffering from anorexia nervosa once they have completed extended residential first or second stage treatment. We are often able to work with bulimics and compulsive overeaters from day one, and have done so with great success.
Our dedicated eating disorder therapists work holistically, providing psychological input, dietetic input and emotional support. Particularly important is the provision of more adaptive coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety and anger, and we use DBT techniques to this end. We are also very experienced at working with an overall clinical team that can include a psychiatrist, GP and dietician or nutritionist.
If you join a Start2Stop outpatient programme but are struggling to stabilise and need more support, living at The Mews House, where you will receive expert and ongoing therapeutic input and support, is likely to work very effectively. As with any addiction, eating disorders involve obsessive-compulsive behaviours and these can cause profound and lasting damage to the sufferer’s heath, as well as to their spiritual, mental and emotional wellbeing. The sooner you get help, the better the prognosis.
Do You have an Eating Disorder?
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