Anxiety disorders are prevalent in the general population and lead to significant dysfunction and low quality of life. Anxiety disorders are often prevalent in individuals with eating disorders. Several studies have shown that anxiety disorders tend to precede eating disorders, which suggests that pre-existing anxiety significantly enhances the vulnerability of individuals to developing an eating disorder. Anxiety disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder with and without agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), acute stress disorder, specific phobias, and anxiety disorder NOS. From these, OCD and SAD have been found to have the highest co-morbidity with ED.
Clients who are admitted to our IOP program are thoroughly evaluated for anxiety disorders and their treatment is tailored accordingly. One of the reason that many client’s will relapse in a lower level of care like IOP is because their anxiety levels increase as they face life and relationship stressors. The Eating Disorder Center of Missouri treats each client holistically with the goal of reducing the relapse rates due to untreated anxiety co-morbidity or other co-morbid disorders (i.e. depression, chemical dependency).
The most powerful treatment for anxiety disorders involves evidenced-based Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) in combination with cognitive-behavioral, cognitive, and acceptance and commitment therapies, including mindfulness and dialectical behavioral therapy. ERP is exceptionally effective and produces remarkable results, allowing individuals to learn that they can successfully face their fears. Repeatedly facing one’s fears and learning to manage the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts associated with these fears allows the anxiety to gradually dissipate. Treatment occurs in both, group and individual formats. In an effort to provide clients the most effective treatment available, EDCMO incorporates anxiety and OCD Exposure and Response Prevention in the treatment of ED clients who have co-morbidity with one or more anxiety disorder.
Our therapists and anxiety consultants also meet with clients individually and assist them in completing life skills tasks, facing their fears of the real world, and help clients learn new skills to manage their stress and anxiety. Helping clients learn to manage every day life stressors is an important component of treatment in the Intensive Outpatient setting.