Patient Perspectives on Anorexia, Treatment, and Therapeutic Alliance

Dear Science of Eating Disorders readers, please welcome Andrea, our newest contributor! Below is her introduction and first post.

Hello SEDs readers, my name is Andrea and I’m excited to be contributing to the blog. I have an undergraduate degree in sociology and I am currently a Masters student studying family relations and human development. My research is looking at the experiences of young women in recovery from eating disorders, and uses qualitative methods including narrative interviews and digital stories to explore stories of eating disorders and recovery. I am particularly interested in stories that fall outside of the “norm,” as I feel that we sometimes hear a limited, scripted story of what it means to be someone who has had and recovered from an eating disorder.

I myself am recovered from ED-NOS, and I am happy to be making meaning from my experiences by exploring eating disorders in an Continue reading →

Family-Based Treatment for Adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa: Hype or Hope?

When it comes to eating disorder treatment, few (if any) approaches are as divisive as Family-Based Treatment, also known as the Maudsley Method (I’ll use the terms interchangeably) . When I first heard about Maudsley, sometime during my mid-teens, I thought it was scaaary. But, as I’ve learned more about it, I began to realize it is not as scary as I originally thought.

As a side-note: I know many people reading this post know more about Maudsley than I ever will, so your feedback will be very much appreciated, especially if I get something wrong. I should also mention that I never did FBT or any kind-of family treatment/therapy as part of my ED recovery. (I have done family therapy, but it was unrelated to my ED; it was a component of a family member’s treatment for an unrelated mental health issue.)

In this post, I want to … Continue reading →

Self-Harm is Common Among Adolescents With Eating Disorders

Self-harm or non-suicidal self-injury (SI) are common among adolescents, particularly among adolescents with eating disorders. Previous studies have shown that SI seems to be associated with sexual trauma, mood disorders, and substance abuse. The present study aimed to find out whether (1) SI is associated with any specific eating disorder symptoms, such as bingeing, or purging, and (2) how often clinicians screen for SI behaviours (and whether particular patients are more likely to be screened than others).

Dr. Rebecka Peebles and colleagues looked retrospectively at intake evaluations of 1,432 patients between the ages of 10-21 (mean age 15). Three quarters of the patients were Caucasian, and slightly over 9% were male.  Sixty-three percent had an intake diagnosis of eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS).

MAIN FINDINGS FOR AIM 1

  • Of those screened for SI behaviours, 40.8% engaged in SI
  • Cutting was the most common SI behaviour reported (85%)
  • Bingeing/purging was
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Can Puberty Affect the Development of Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders typically begin in adolescence. One common explanation for this is that during adolescence females are increasingly exposed to the media, thin models, and dieting. While this is probably true to some extent, it doesn’t explain why the rates of eating disorders are quite low despite the high levels of exposure to thin models in the media. Out of 100 girls, only a handful develop eating disorders, yet all of them are exposed to the same magazines and TV shows.

This means there must be some other factors that differ between this group of girls. One hypothesis is that hormonal changes during puberty may modulate the genetic risk factors for eating disorders. These changes may “turn on” genes that predispose individuals to eating disorders. Previous research has shown that genetic factors modulate disordered eating (eating disorders have a high heritability), but how? What are the mechanisms of this … Continue reading →

Yoga in the Treatment of Eating Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Exercise can be great for your body and for your mental health. It is well accepted that exercise can decrease anxiety, increase concentration, and generally improve mood. But too much exercise can be harmful, especially during recovery from a restrictive eating disorder. So is there a way to reap the benefits of exercise without the risks? And if yes, can this exercise actually help in the recovery process?

One form of exercise that has gained a lot of popularity is yoga. Initial studies on the use of yoga in treatment of anxiety and depression seem promising (though I haven’t checked them out in detail myself) (Mishra et al., 2001; Sahasi et al., 1989; Pilkington et al., 2005; Mitchell et al., 2007). So, can it be used as an adjunct with regular eating disorder treatment? Can it decrease eating disorder symptoms?

In this randomized controlled study (RCT – randomized controlled Continue reading →

What Makes a Good Nurse? Perspectives of Anorexia Nervosa Patients

Nurses can play an important role in facilitating recovery from anorexia nervosa, particularly in an inpatient or residential treatment setting. But what makes a good nurse from the patient’s perspective? More specifically, what qualities do adolescents with anorexia nervosa consider important and helpful during recovery?

The answer may seem obvious: understanding, empathetic, supportive, non-judgemental, and the like. But those are sort of general characteristics that apply to good friends, family members, partners, doctors, other healthcare professionals, and even teachers.

Joyce von Ommen and colleagues wanted to dig a little deeper than that. They wanted to find out what components of nursing care helped patients restore normal eating and exercise patterns.

In order to find out, they collected interviews from 12 female adolescent patients (mean age of 15, range from 13-17), who were discharged from a specialized eating disorder treatment centre within three months of the interview. The patients were diagnosed … Continue reading →

Self-Denial, Secrecy and Deliberate Lying in Eating Disorders

I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “I’ve already eaten, thanks,” “No thanks, I’m going be eating later,” or “I’d love to, but I’ve got a stomach ache,” when I actually hadn’t eaten, wasn’t going to eat later, and didn’t have a stomach ache. Why did I do that? Did I realize I had, or was developing, an eating disorder? How long did it take for that realization to click? And once it did, did I stop lying to avoid eating with others or did I do it more?

A lot of questions spring up when you start thinking about secrecy, denial, and lying as it related to eating disorders. And answering these questions by having to remember what you thought when you first began to show signs of your eating disorder is hard. It is hard for many reasons, but one reason is that the we feel about … Continue reading →

Devil in the Details: Can Poor Cognitive Function be Attributed to Anorexia Nervosa Patients’ Obsession with Detail?

Hi all, Gina here, again. This article is short and sweet, as is my post. I’m becoming increasingly interested in some of the more cognitive aspects of eating disorders and seeing as my background on the subject is pretty limited (re: none, although I’m taking a cognitive science class this term), I was hoping to generate some discussion /or references from readers that I could incorporate into further posts. Cheers!

It has long been suggested that people with eating disorders (in this case, specifically anorexia nervosa) display some core deficits in cognitive ability — namely impairments in executive function (Fassino et al., 2002; Pendleton Jones et al., 1991; Tchanturia et al., 2001, 2002, 2004).

If you’re like me and don’t study cognitive science, executive function basically means that people with AN show abnormal mental rigidity, working memory, capacity to manage impulsive responses (response disinhibition) and abstraction skills (i.e. abstract … Continue reading →

Does Too Much Exposure to Thin Models Cause Eating Disorders? Anorexia, Bulimia in Blind Women

As many of you already know, Vogue has recently banned models that are “too-thin” (and “too young”). It is a big step in the right direction, no, a huge step, and one deserving an applause, that’s according to an article on allvoices.com. Cue a drop in the prevalence of eating disorders, right? The logic in most articles, whether implicit or explicit, seems to be: no more skinny models = no more girls aspiring to be like skinny models = no more eating disorders.

Health of models belonging to both genders has been a growing issue in the past, especially after the death of two models in 2006-2007 from what the doctors blame to their acute eating disorders. This important step by Vogue targets not just skinny models, but also the impact they have on the young minds of girls and boys by presenting an image of perfection that

Continue reading →