The Past, Present & Future of Eating Disorder Treatment

Research surrounding the development and treatment of anorexia and bulimia has been advancing rapidly. Not only does research now support the claim that recovery is possible, we have learned that there is a neurobiological basis of anorexia.  The release of specific neurochemicals is associated with increased anxiety and food-avoidance behaviors in anorexia.. Through inclusive, large-scale studies and self-reports, we have learned that eating disorders do not discriminate against age, race, religion or gender and surely are not a Caucasian female-centric diagnosis. As described extensively in the research, and as implemented at Columbus Park, evidence-based treatments such as CBT-E, DBT and FBT are the gold standards for treatment.

In honor of  Eating Disorder Awareness week, we reflected on just how far eating disorder treatment has come in the past few years, and the direction that it’s headed towards.

The Future of Eating Disorder Treatment

We have gathered information from some of the most recent studies to share with you. We hope you find this information as hopeful and motivating as we do!

Temperament Based Treatment for Anorexia:

  • Burgeoning research by Dr. Walter H. Kaye at UCSD School of Psychiatry suggests that temperament based traits such as rigidity or an enhanced ability to delay reward may lead to the sustained eating disordered behaviors observed in our loved ones.
  • Brain imaging data suggest that individuals with AN have an altered reward sensitivity and increased behavioral inhibition. This may help to maintain persistent food restriction.
  • The primary goal of this treatment is not to change temperament, which a relatively fixed set of traits, but rather to work with their temperament instead of against it.
  • Personality factors such as rigidity suggest that adults with AN may be treated successfully by reducing choice (uncertainty) and using their tendency to stick to rules and structure in a way that will ensure sufficient daily caloric intake through the use of a fixed food plan.

Utilizing Social Supports – Maudsley Therapy for Adults

  • At the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute Eating Disorders Program, Dr. Kaye has been developing a Maudsley Treatment for adults. This treatment protocol is an expansion of the Family Based Therapy currently employed for adolescents at Columbus Park.
  • In traditional FBT, adolescents benefit from parent/caregiver support during each and every eating experience.  Relying on social supports outside of the traditional family structure is both effective and appealing to adult patients as it reduces isolation and promotes collaboration.

Broadening Access to Treatment

  • The vast majority of individuals in need of mental health services for eating disorders and other mental health problems do not receive treatment
  • Guided self-help programs and web-centered trainings may be useful for those individuals who do not have access to treatment centers
  • Looking into the future, more sophisticated forms of treatment delivered as mobile applications (“apps”) may lead to more personalized and efficacious treatments for bulimic disorders, thus enhancing the delivery of treatments for eating disorders.

At Columbus Park Eating Disorder Center in New York City, we pride ourselves on our effective interventions of anorexia, bulimia and related disorders, and utilization of the current gold standard treatment interventions. While we are confident our programming works effectively, in the least restrictive setting, we remain dedicated to continuing education, to ensure we are always on the cutting edge of eating disorder intervention.

Here at Columbus Park, we can help adolescents and adults get connected to treatment that will work for them. Learn more about our program here.

References:

https://eatingdisorders.ucsd.edu/research/pub/imaging/doc/2015/Kaye_TBT_AnorexiaNervosa.pdf

https://eatingdisorders.ucsd.edu/bio/walter-kaye-md.html

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005796716301619