Mental disorders are defined as syndromes based on significant disturbances in one’s thinking and behavior established by a dysfunction in the psychological, biological or developmental process (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p.20). Like most psychological illnesses, eating disorders are developed due to a combination of both biological and psychological contributors. As mentioned in a previous blog post, there’s a great deal of neurobiology involved in eating disorders and the possible biological treatments (For more information: http://davidsonmaplab.com/blog/the-neurobiology-behind-eating-disorders/ ). However, psychological treatments for eating disorders have been reviewed to discuss the efficiency them and ways of improvement (Wilson, Grilo &Vitousek, 2007).
According to the 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), three most prevalent forms of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and binge-eating disorder (BED). Anorexia nervosa is defined as the restriction of food intake leading to considerably low body weight and bulimia nervosa is defined as recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by inappropriate behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, to prevent weight gain. Most recently, binge eating disorder has become recognized by the psychological community. BED is identified as the recurring episodes of eating an amount of food in a short period of time that is significantly larger than most people would eat in a similar period (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 339, 345, 351). Furthermore, these three subtypes of eating disorders are characterized very differently and each have diverse forms of treatment.
While there are various of different types of therapy for eating disorders, one method of therapy found in each subtype of eating disorders is cognitive behavior therapy. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a common form of psychotherapy that is directed at helping clients to change their patterns of thinking and behaviors that underlie their illnesses (Martin, 2016). For people with eating disorders this form of treatment is designed to replace dysfunctional eating behaviors with regular and flexible patterns of eating and decrease undue concern with body shape and weight. Although CBT has been shown to be effective in some cases, there are also a number of patients failing to make sufficient improvement.
To improve upon this form of treatment and the development of additional treatments, this review suggests further investigation of the psychobiological mechanisms that cause and maintain eating disorders. Although this study is a decade old, it still provides a few valid methods on psychological treatment of eating disorders such as cognitive behavioral therapy, but also family therapy for patients with AN, interpersonal psychotherapy for patients with BN, and dialectical behavior therapy for patients with BED.
Wilson, G. T., Grilo, C. M., & Vitousek, K. M. (2007). Psychological treatment of eating disorders. American Psychologist, 62(3), 199.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub.
Martin, B. (2016). In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on July, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/in-depth-cognitive-behavioral-therapy/
Image Found: https://openclipart.org/detail/189715/fixing-a-brain