An individual suffering from an Eating Disorder they often have different eating habits to an earlier period of their life. These different eating periods often result in reducing food intake to a point that the people are starving themselves. They may also have very low self-confidence and are conscious of their body shape. Subsequently, the individual may also deteriorate in physical health.
There are three main areas associated with eating problems:
- Obesity – this involves overeating to the point where an individual raises their body mass index. Obesity often results in poor self-esteem, self-confidence, social withdrawal, anxiety and depression.
- Anorexia Nervosa – This is where an individual’s body mass index is 15% below the normal level. They are scared of gaining weight and so become obsessional about how they look and what they eat.
- Bulimia Nervosa – This is where an individual will eat excessively and then self induce vomit. They may also stave themselves or use laxatives to compensate for the weight that they may gain from binge eating. As a result of their behaviour they often do not loose significant amounts of weight but cause long-term effects to their health.
Individuals who suffer with an eating disorder often refuse to eat or deny being hungry, they have an intense fear of gaining weight, negative or distorted self image, excessive exercise, flat mood or lack of emotion, irritability, fear of eating in public and preoccupation with food.
During a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) the first step taking with individuals with eating disorders involves identifying what the problem is and making plans for treatment. Often the case is that individuals attend therapy due to physical health problems that are associated with eating disorders. One in five individuals who suffer from an eating disorder, if untreated can die from the disorder.
The interventions introduced to the individual focus on the fluctuation in weight loss and gain and relapse prevention. In addition to this, symptom relief for specific problems based on change are used including behavioural techniques, relaxation and imagery. A focus is also paid towards identifying individuals thoughts, feelings and behaviours and challenge these negative thoughts to replace them with more balanced and positive substitutes.
Individuals attitudes are also addressed along with their core beliefs using schema focused therapy and mindfulness. This aspect of therapy helps both the client and therapist to gain a deeper level of understanding into the individuals thought process and how they developed which in turn aids in relapse prevention. As the individual understands more about how they view themselves, others and the world around them they are able to alter these views which in turn adjusts their eating behaviours.