Trauma-Based Eating Disorders
Trauma, abuse, abandonment and neglect place an individual at risk for the development of disordered eating including food restriction, binge eating, purging, compulsive exercise, compulsive overeating and body image disturbance. The eating disorder symptoms may restore a sense of personal control, power and safety to the individual who feels powerless and overwhelmed by traumatic memories, conflicts and life stressors.
Trauma-Based Eating Disorders: Philosophy
Our program offers an innovative treatment option for individuals who have suffered from trauma and struggle with food and weight disturbances. Our treatment team has developed a program based on years of experience in the field of eating disorders as well as trauma therapy and compulsive behaviors. The client’s need for safety, personal empowerment, and control are respected and acknowledged while clients learn to tolerate emotions without the use of eating disordered symptoms.
Trauma-Based Eating Disorders: Common Symptoms
If you or someone you know has three or more of the following symptoms, a professional assessment is highly recommended:
- Excessive weight loss in a short period of time
- Dissatisfaction with appearance; belief the body is fat, even when underweight
- Loss or disturbance of menstrual cycle
- Eating in secret
- Obsession with exercise
- Vomiting or use of drugs to stimulate vomiting
- Binging but no noticeable weight gain
- Disappearance to the bathroom for long periods of time to induce vomiting after meals
- Symptoms of depression, including withdrawing from activities and isolation
- Eating patterns affected by boredom, frustration, depression and anxiety
- Excessive preoccupation with weight and thinness
- Frequent use of laxatives or diuretics
Trauma-Based Eating Disorders: Treatment Approach
The Eating Disorders Tract focuses on uncovering and understanding the unique meaning and function of the symptoms for each individual while developing skills for symptom containment and relapse prevention.
The program also addresses co-existing addictions and compulsive disorders when recommended by the treatment team. Our program helps clients explore and understand their eating problems and compulsive behaviors in the context of unresolved trauma while providing a safe and supportive healing environment.
A thorough assessment includes a trauma history as well as a nutritional and eating disorders evaluation. Treatment recommendations are based on emotional and physical impairment. Conditions warranting inpatient hospitalization may include: excessive weight loss in a short period of time, uncontrolled binge eating and/or purging, clinical depression, self-harming behavior, or unsuccessful outpatient treatment.
Individualized treatment is designed based on the patient’s unique history, struggles and needs. The individual is guided and supported in developing a relationship with food, body, self and others that is based on empowerment, self-responsibility and personal safety. Patients address underlying conflicts and emotions that maintain the eating disorder and are supported in developing the ability to make and sustain healthy life choices and commitments.
Specific therapeutic modalities may include the following:
- Intensive individual psychotherapy
- Eating disorders group therapy
- Body Image group
- Expressive and movement therapies
- In Vivo Gentle Eating Groups
- Trauma therapy
- Nutritional therapy, menu planning, and education
- Daily relapse prevention groups
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Psychodrama, Art Therapy and Music Therapy
- Meditation and Guided Imagery
- Family and marital therapy
For more information about the specialized programs at River Oaks Hospital, call 1-800-366-1740. Staff will be happy to assist with questions and tours of the campus.