Eating disorders in Oxfordshire
A doctor should make the initial diagnosis of an eating disorder; they may offer CBT to help the individual overcome the eating disorder. Many medical issues mimic eating disorders and co-morbid psychiatric disorders.
All organic causes should be ruled out before making a diagnosis of an eating disorder, or any other psychiatric disorder. Once you have a diagnosis, then you can expect to get six free CBT sessions on the NHS. More is often needed, though, which have to be private.
Hypnotherapy is an alternative; it can help reduce the anxiety, and a mix of solution-focused therapy, where we focus on the resources and positive aspects of the person. CBT can tackle thinking patterns and mindfulness to help the person be more aware of what they are doing and focus on positive thoughts.
There are separate misdiagnosed psychological problems which appear similar to an eating disorder. Hypnotherapy helps these too.
- Emetophobia is an anxiety disorder characterised by an intense fear of vomiting. A person so afflicted may develop rigorous standards of food hygiene, such as not touching food with their hands. They may become socially withdrawn to avoid situations which in their perception may make them vomit. Many diagnosed with emetophobia are suffering from Anorexia or self-starvation. In severe cases of emetophobia, they may drastically reduce their food intake.
- Phagophobia is an anxiety disorder characterised by a fear of eating; it is usually initiated by an adverse experience while eating such as choking or vomiting. Persons with this disorder may present with complaints of pain while swallowing. – See Page on Food Phobia for more details.
- Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a somatoform disorder that affects up to 2% of the population. BDD is characterised by excessive rumination over an actual or perceived physical flaw. BDD has been diagnosed equally among men and women and often misdiagnosed as anorexia nervosa. It also occurs co-morbidly in 39% of eating disorder cases. BDD is a form of OCD and can be helped by a mix of Hypnotherapy, SFBT and CBT, lowering anxiety and building helpful habits that can help overcome the negative ones.
Eating disorders helped by using hypnotherapy
In cases of Binge eating, Anorexia and Bulimia, we look at the emotional relationship with food; once a client realises they can take responsibility for their problem, they can start making changes to thoughts and behaviours. Redirecting the anxiety by refocusing on more positive activities and feeling better about themselves by working on self-esteem.
With binge eating, often finding the triggers and channelling that bingeing into more positive activities such as keeping a journal or changing one’s routine can make profound changes and the hypnotherapy can help reduce the anxiety that drives the urge.
Boredom eating is a common problem too, especially for those who live on their own. Learn to change the way you shop for food, keep food, cook and become engaged in less boring activities. Try reducing your exposure to TV, especially commercials, as these will increase the brain activity into craving food.
Onorexia is an obsession with one food type, usually focused on a healthy diet; the person finds themselves restricting their choice of food until they start suffering from malnutrition.
Fussy eating usually starts as a child, as Anorexia often begins with control over their body because they feel so helpless with authority in their lives, fussy eating could be the child’s response to divorce, or moving school regularly, or a spell in hospital, or (as my mother’s case – rationing during the war). Family traditions of eating a minimal English diet could also contribute so that encouraging diversity can help.
Allowing children to eat what they want because otherwise they kick up an almighty fuss needs to be addressed. Those who carry on their fussy eating into adulthood can go blind or have a stroke in their 20s or need heart surgery when in their 40s.
Food Phobias, like fussy eating, often develop as children, sometimes after having a bad experience such as food poisoning, or being forced to eat something repulsive (school dinners for me). Some start after an accident. I knew someone with a phobia of bananas caused by his mother panicking over a pan of boiling water. He, at the time, was eating a banana and his brain then linked the two incidents.
Another I know has a phobia of mushrooms and tried to avoid the vegetable section in supermarkets to avoid seeing them; she didn’t remember how it started, all she could remember was being on a walk with her grandmother and viewing some. I daresay her grandmother warned her not to eat them as they could be poisonous, and so a phobia was born.
Also see: BEAT