Two of the most extensively researched forms of treatment for eating disorders were first developed in the UK and have also been studied and adapted here in the US. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders (CBT-E), developed by Dr. Christopher Fairburn, and The Maudsley Approach, developed at The Maudsley Hospital, London are considered to have the strongest scientific evidence for effectiveness. CBT-E gives patients tools for setting goals and making changes in their behaviors. The Maudsley approach involves teaching parents how to support their children’s recovery. It is important to provide patients with eating disorders the support of a multidisciplinary team, so I collaborate closely with medical and nutrition specialists here in Houston when I work with patients with eating disorders.
Anxiety and Mood Disorders
Anxiety and mood disorders are the most common psychiatric issues and commonly co-occur with eating disorders. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the treatment identified as the most effective for treating anxiety and mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) provides many useful tools for managing life’s challenges and building a sense of self-efficacy. Psychiatrists and other health care providers may be involved as part of the treatment team. Mindfulness and psychodynamic approaches also provide opportunities for insight and personal growth.
It is not enough to treat symptoms without addressing the underlying issues that may drive people to symptomatic behavior. Trauma is a factor in the development of many mental health problems, and unhealthy behaviors are often an attempt to cope with emotional pain. When I started treating eating disorders, I came to understand that many of my patients experienced painful traumas in their past. To fully recover from their eating disorders, they needed help understanding and dealing with their trauma. Depending on the diagnosis associated with trauma, there are different approaches that can help, including CBT and phased treatment to increase patient’s sense of safety and personal effectiveness.