Eating Disorder Therapy Approaches at The Highlands

Anxiety and Eating Disorders

Anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are two of the most common co-occurring disorders in eating disorder clients. At The Highlands, we offer treatment from experienced professionals who understand both of these life-disrupting conditions, as well as, their causes and symptoms. Because heightened anxiety and OCD often exacerbate eating disorder symptoms, we treat these issues along with the eating disorder to help our clients establish healthy functional lives.

Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and Eating Disorders

Many clients who come to us for treatment have struggled with anxiety disorders for years, even before developing their eating disorders. In fact, our clients often report that their disordered eating is intricately linked with their anxiety. Fears of rejection, the need to be perfect, body image dissatisfaction, life-changing events, guilt, past trauma and many other factors contribute to high anxiety and may lead clients into disordered eating as a way of managing emotions and trying to control their life circumstances. Some of our clients have had previous treatment for either their eating disorder or their anxiety and OCD, but few have experienced treatment for both of these conditions at the same time. Because they are so closely connected, we believe that anxiety/OCD and eating disorders need to be treated concurrently to give our clients the best chance for recovery. Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
  • sleeplessness
  • muscle tension
  • anxiety attacks or panic attacks
  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • bad dreams/nightmares
  • concentration problems
  • repetitive thoughts
  • compulsive behaviors
  • intense fears about specific objects or situations

Anxiety and OCD Treatment

At The Highlands, we incorporate Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, an evidence-based treatment for anxiety and eating disorders. During this treatment, we gradually and repetitively help our clients confront anxiety-provoking situations that they would typically avoid or have difficulty experiencing without the use of harmful behaviors. Through ERP, clients are able to work through these scenarios and learn that much of what they fear will happen will not actually occur. This allows the client’s anxiety to subside naturally over time. Along with ERP therapy, The Highlands also incorporates a variety of other evidence-based cognitive and behavioral therapy methods for anxiety and OCD. These interventions allow us to compassionately challenge clients’ belief systems that keep them in bondage to fears and ritualistic behaviors. All of our clients experience a certain level of discomfort when they are first exposed to anxiety treatment, but with time and repetition in a supportive environment, they begin to experience freedom and peace in everyday situations.