OCD and Eating Disorders
Understanding Eating Disorders in relation to OCD
Anorexics are often obsessed with becoming thin and performing ritualistic behaviour that helps them take steps to achieve the body that they desire. Many experts claim that the symptoms of anorexic Nervosa and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder become mostly linked where certain behaviours assume significance in both of the disorders. An example could be that a young girl feels that she needs to run around the block for precisely 20 minutes before every meal. This act is indeed a compulsive behaviour, while also purposefully acting in a way that is going to help to lose weight.
Those that suffer from bulimia nervosa experience recurrent episodes where they partake in binge eating, followed by vomiting, laxative abuse, or both. The urge to perform such acts have been described as feeling like a compulsive act. Similar to the example of the girl that feels compelled to run around the block for a set amount of time, sufferers of bulimia nervosa can display behaviours which fall into both Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and that of bulimics. An example would be a person that believes in eating for a set time, let’s say
30 minutes, uninterrupted. However, if the person is disturbed or distracted during that time, then the binging episode feels ‘ruined,’ and so they have to start all over again.
What causes the development of eating disorders?
Although the exact causes of eating disorders are unknown, experts have a relatively clear idea that it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The development of unhealthy irrational beliefs about the self is likely to play a pivotal role in the development of the disorder.
How Common are Eating Disorders?
By the age of 20, around 14% of all girls would have experienced an eating disorder in some form. Eating disorders are less common in males than females, with approximately 1 male experiencing such symptoms for every four females of similar age. Eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex, or ethnic background.
How can our treatment help?
Like OCD, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder mostly relate to the person using some external behaviour or compulsion to gain feelings of safety, control, or distraction from other unwanted emotions. Like more traditional Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there is a very habitual cycle that unfolds within the person experiencing an eating disorder. Firstly there is that unwanted negative thought or feeling that the individual gives too much attention and meaning to, often relating to body image, and rather than accepting it, they perform some action to take those intrusions away. Although this may temporarily provide the person some short term relief, the effects are not very long-lasting. Before the person knows it, they become caught in the same unhelpful, ritualistic behaviour day in and day out.
All of our programs include Psychoeducation, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT)
and talking therapy, all of which together prove to be very effective in treating both OCD and eating disorders.
More specifically, our treatment can show those experiencing eating disorders ways of clearly identifying what is going on underneath the surface. Although we appreciate how debilitating these conditions can be, we assure you that there is hope. As well as educating clients around precisely what is going when experiencing symptoms, both mentally and physically, we also teach simple and effective ways to positively gain control back into the person’s life, breaking the negative self-perpetuating cycles. The intensive method is known to be extremely effective when treating a wide array of anxiety disorders, as the very nature of the condition is a habitual one and it is no different when it comes to eating disorders. Therefore working in ‘blocks’ of therapy can aid a quick and effective process and deeply challenge what drives the condition and the continual suffering.