How Mental Health Disorders Can Complicate Binge Eating Disorder Recovery

A successful binge eating disorder recovery begins with eating disorder therapists carefully evaluating patients to determine what mental health problems may need to be concurrently addressed.

An eating disorder recovery center provides comprehensive intake assessments involving not only the physical status of clients but also their psychological status. Some people with an eating disorder may be diagnosed with depression, generalized anxiety and/or a personality disorder that can complicate binge eating recovery treatment.

In addition, people with an eating disorder and a personality disorder often require ongoing eating disorder support that extends past their residential treatment program.

What Are Common Personality Disorders That Can Complicate BED Recovery?

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder affects over 22 percent of men and women with anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder in contrast to the six percent of individuals in the general population.

Researchers believe this suggests a partially causal correlation between the two that directly contributes to abnormal eating patterns. Signs of OCPD include the need to be “perfect,” extreme attention to detail and an overwhelming need to control their environment.

Therapists working for an eating disorder recovery center will address OCPD initially before developing an individualized binge eating recovery treatment plan.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Over 25 percent of teens and adults diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder are also diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Characterized by emotional instability, impulsivity, lack of self-esteem and a fear of being abandoned, borderline personality disorder is one of the more difficult personality disorders to treat due to dysfunction in the patient’s family and the continual relationship chaos that can ensue.

Eating disorder support for patients with BPD may involve antidepressants to help stabilize their moods and emotions.

How Does an Eating Disorder Recovery Center Address Personality Disorders?

Both obsessive-compulsive and borderline personality disorders can exacerbate symptoms of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating episodes by contributing to the patient’s negative self-identity and anxiety.

Specifically, trigger events or emotions may drive binge eating episodes and their counteracting responses, such as abusing laxatives or purging. Alternately, OCD intensifies the urge for patients to want to “control” their food intake and bodily appearance.

Eating disorder recovery center therapists treating patients with personality disorders view these as forms of self-destructive behavior intended as a way for patients to cope.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for Binge Eating Disorder Recovery

Dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT) is a subtype of cognitive behavioral therapy designed to increase a patient’s ability to regulate the interplay between their actions and intense emotions. DBT focuses on developing mindfulness and interpersonal skills to help patients cope healthily with stress and emotional extremes.

Evidence-based treatment for eating disorder patients diagnosed with borderline or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, DBT is also an effective type of group therapy modality used frequently to improve communication skills among patients in a binge eating disorder recovery program.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT emphasizes the importance of how unhealthy thought patterns directly influence self-destructive behaviors associated with eating disorders. CBT therapists will appropriately challenge a patient’s beliefs about their eating habits and physical appearance in order to help patients restructure these false beliefs.

They also challenge the patient’s dysfunctional feelings and beliefs they may have learned in childhood, especially if the patient was brought up in an unstable household. By “re-parenting” young adults with eating disorders, CBT facilitates the ability for patients to modify entrenched and self-defeating “schemas” (life patterns) by reshaping negative thought patterns.

Treating mental health problems, such as personality disorders, while addressing the eating disorder is essential for completing a successful binge eating recovery program. In addition, patients leaving a residential eating disorder recovery center must take advantage of eating disorder support services provided by recovery centers.

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