Treating eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive tendencies
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result of an eating disorder. Oftentimes, when people do reach out for treatment, their recovery can be further complicated by co-occurring obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
“According to the best available research, if a person is diagnosed with an eating disorder, there’s a 25% chance they are also experiencing OCD at the same time,” says Dr. Nicholas Farrell, clinical supervisor, Eating Disorder Recovery at Rogers Behavioral Health. “OCD is often connected with eating disorders since many behaviors may overlap, such as obsessive thoughts about food and food rituals, along with unhelpful beliefs,” Farrell explains.
Signs a person with an eating disorder may also have OCD
Compulsive behaviors often observed with eating disorder behaviors include:
- Excessive exercise
- Constantly body checking or examining appearance in mirrors
- Counting calories or caloric intake
- Frequently weighing oneself
- Use of diuretics or laxatives to reduce weight
- Following particular “rules” or “rituals” when eating a meal
- Rigidly tracking intake of carbohydrates, sugars, fats, etc.
Evidence-based treatment that works
Dr. Farrell says eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders have historically been treated separately, but now a specific treatment technique known as exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) addresses both disorders at the same time.
Help at Rogers Behavioral Health
Dr. Farrell says Rogers was one of the first treatment centers in the world to publish scientific data showing that using ERP to the simultaneously treat eating disorders and OCD leads to a lessening of symptoms in both.
Rogers offers eating disorder treatment for ages 8 and up in locations throughout Wisconsin and nationwide. Residential treatment for adolescents and adults is expanding in June 2019. Learn more here. To find the location nearest you, call 800-767-4411 or request a free screening.