Treatment of Eating Disorders at the Brain Resource Center
Eating disorders often represent an intense effort at self-regulation in the face of persistent states of heightened anxiety and arousal. This heightened state of hyper arousal and lack of self-regulation manifests itself in brain functions, peripheral nervous system, and behavioral and affective regulation.
Eating disorders symptomology and representations are also closely related to body sensations, body representations, feelings of shame, fear, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive symptomology and their many manifestations and behavioral correlates.
The eating disorder treatment protocol at the Brain Resource Center uses neuromodulation techniques along with cognitive behavioral therapy to address the disregulation of arousal by retraining the brain and the peripheral nervous system for better self regulation and reduction of hyper arousal.
Body sensations and eating disorders are often associated with disturbances in the Right Hemisphere in the brain. Eating disorders often (but not always since there are strong genetic factors in play) correlate with some history of developmental trauma and hyperaroused brain and peripheral nervous system with poor self-regulation. We also observe common comorbidities such as hyper-reactivity of the anterior cingulate which is the brain’s signature for OCD. Food intake or other maladaptive addictive behavior is an attempt to calm the over active fear related limbic system and very reactive amygdalas.
The treatment protocol can have lasting and permanent effect in how the brain is regulated and regulation of arousal is normalized. Symptoms such as anxiety, obsessiveness, impulse control, and repetitive and destructive loops of behavior are replaced by more adaptive patterns of improved self and affect regulation.
Eating Disorders in Adolescents, Young Adults, and Adults
Eating disorders are complex conditions that can have serious consequences for physical and psychological health, productivity, and interpersonal relationships. Eating disorders can be very serious and potentially life-threatening conditions and require professional help. It is highly recommended as early as possible in the course of its development to maximize the likelihood of physical and emotional recovery.
In the United States alone, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or EDNOS (Wade, Keski-Rahkonen, & Hudson, 2011). (EDNOS is now recognized as OSFED, other specified feeding or eating disorder, per the DSM-5.)
Many individuals struggle with body dissatisfaction and sub-clinical disordered eating attitudes and behaviors, and the best-known contributor to the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is body dissatisfaction (Stice, 2002). By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life (Smolak, 2011). Anorexia nervosa as disorders are reported in as many as one in every 100 females. Teens with anorexia fear gaining weight and are at least 15% below their ideal body weights. This is based on the belief that the main gauge of self-worth is their body image. Given the very skewed female ideal body weight by media in our culture, issues with perceived ideal and one’s own body image can lead to a host of psychological, emotional, and behavioral challenges.
Experts believe many American girls are bulimic and have kept the problem a secret. Bulimia often starts in the late teens and early adulthood. People with bulimia go through cycles of eating enormous amounts of foods followed by purging by vomiting, using laxatives, or diuretics or hours of aerobic exercise. This is often triggered by incredible amount of shame associated with the binging behavior and the fear of gaining weight which inevitably leads to more stress reactions, poor impulse control, depression, anxiety, and a host of other symptoms that keeps feeding the cycle of stress, unhappiness, impulse control issues, maladaptive behavior, the shame associated with the behavior, and the futile efforts to make up for it by purging and doing extreme forms of exercise or weight control strategies.
If you see these warning signs of bulimia you should consider seeking treatment immediately:
- Extreme preoccupation about being overweight
- Strict dieting followed by high-calorie eating binges
- Overeating when distressed
- Feeling out of control
- Disappearing after a meal
- Depressed moods
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Frequent use of laxatives or diuretics
- Excessive exercising
- Irregular menstrual cycles
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