Eating Disorder Therapy

Anxiety and Eating Disorders

Anxiety and Eating Disorders commonly go together. In fact, some studies have shown that as many as  two-thirds of people struggle with both. However, there are very few treatment programs that combine state of the art Anxiety Disorder therapies with comprehensive Eating Disorder treatment. Not only does Castlewood provide both types of intensive treatment, we also blend in trauma resolution therapies when appropriate. Clients often have had either treatment exclusively for their eating disorder, or only for their anxiety disorder; many have not had treatment for both simultaneously. Given the identified links between the two disorders, Castlewood´s treatment philosophy is that eating disorders and anxiety need to be treated at the same time, in order to give clients the best chance at long-lasting recovery.

Understanding the Connection between Anxiety and Eating Disorders

At Castlewood, we believe in treating the underlying causes of our clients´ eating disorders, including co-occurring symptoms such as depression or anxiety and eating disorders. Many of the clients we treat struggle with general anxiety disorders, in addition to the particular and significant levels of anxiety they experience around eating disorder-related issues, including:
  • Food
  • Weight
  • Body image
In fact, many of our clients were struggling with their anxiety disorders well before the eating disorder appeared. Clients with anxiety disorders who come to Castlewood typically describe their eating disorder and their anxiety to be intricately linked together. Anxiety is one of the many contributory factors found to be at the root of eating disorder symptoms. Clients who experience both an eating disorder and an anxiety disorder have been shown to have much higher degrees of these characteristics:
  • Perfectionism
  • Obsessionality
  • Avoidance
  • Body image dissatisfaction
Anxiety is also an emotion that our clients have difficulty regulating without using their eating disorder or self-injury, and therefore becomes a trigger for many self-destructive behaviors.

Castlewood’s Unique and Individualized Approach to Treating Eating Disorders and Anxiety

Clients requiring treatment for a combination of eating disorders and anxiety receive a highly customized treatment plan based on their specific needs and issues. Castlewood utilizes exposure and response prevention therapy, a specific type of cognitive-behavioral therapy, to treat anxiety disorders. Clients are asked to identify anxiety-provoking situations that they typically avoid altogether, or they have difficulty tolerating without using ritual or harmful behaviors. We then gradually and repetitively expose clients to these situations, while requesting that they not engage in ritual behaviors to cope with the anxiety or fear that they experience. With this consistent exposure to feared situations, clients allow themselves to see that what they fear will happen in a given situation will not actually occur. As a result, their anxiety about a previously feared situation reduces naturally. In conjunction with exposure and response prevention therapy, Castlewood also utilizes other cognitive and behavioral therapies in the treatment of anxiety disorders that allows us to challenge belief systems that maintain fears and ritual behaviors, as well as to provide clients with alternative skills to help them in managing their anxiety. Addressing anxiety and eating disorders concurrently provides a much higher recovery success rate, than treating only one, or treating each at different times.
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