Sunday, July 5, 2009

Anxiety Disorders Risk Factor for Eating Problems

The results of a new study indicate that many individuals who suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and other anxiety disorders may also suffer from disordered eating.

Dr. Lynne Drummond, a consultant psychiatrist at St. George's NHS Mental Health Trust and South West London, gathered data from individuals suffering from severe OCD who were referred to a specialist unit to receive treatment. Dr. Drummond also collected data from another group of individuals who were referred to the same unit for treatment of other anxiety disorders.

Interestingly, the study showed that one-fifth of individuals who suffered from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder also suffered from disordered eating behavior. Additionally, one-third of individuals with other types of anxiety disorders suffered from disordered eating.

Dr. Drummond suggests that clinicians should be aware that individuals suffering from anxiety disorders may also be suffering from an eating disorder or disordered eating. These individuals should be assessed for possible eating problems, the study suggests.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Family Systems Therapy Versus the Maudsley Approach for Treating Anorexia in Adolescents

A new study will compare the effectiveness of Family Systems Therapy versus Behavioral Family Therapy (also known as the Maudsley Approach) for treating anorexia nervosa in adolescents aged 12-18 years old.

Individuals with anorexia nervosa have an intense fear of gaining weight, even though they are underweight, refuse to maintain weight that is 85% of their expected weight given their height and age, have a distorted body image, and miss three consecutive menstrual cycles in a row (for females). Anorexia is a life-threatening illness and has a high morbidity rate.

Both of the therapies that will be examined in the study involve the use of the family in treatment. In the Maudsley Approach, the individual suffering with anorexia attends therapy sessions with his or her parents and siblings. Parents work with the therapist in order to figure out what types of foods and how much of these foods must be consumed in order for the affected individual to gain a healthy amount of weight back. Parents must supervise every meal and work at ensuring that each meal is completed. Siblings are encouraged to act as a support system to the affected individual. Once the affected individual has regained a healthy amount of weight, he or she is gradually granted increasing responsibility for choosing his or her own meals again. Additionally, once a healthy weight has been reached, family and developmental issues are addressed in therapy.

In Family Systems Therapy, family members can address any family stressors or problematic communication patterns during therapy sessions.

Two-hundred and forty adolescents aged 12-18 years old are being recruited to participate in this study. All participants must be between 75-87% of their healthy body weight, and medically stable. All families will be randomly assigned to participate in the Maudsley Approach or Family Systems Therapy for nine months. Each family will attend weekly therapy sessions for the first 7-8 weeks of the study, followed by six bi-weekly sessions, and finally monthly therapy sessions for the remainder of the study.

The study will be taking place at six different locations: New York Presbyterian/Westchester, Sheppard Pratt in Baltimore, University of Toronto, Stanford University in Palo Alto, Washington University in St. Louis, and University of California in San Diego.

If you are interested in participating in this study, you can e-mail the study's coordinator, Samantha Berthod at:

Monday, March 23, 2009

The New Face of Bulimia Nervosa

Researchers have generally believed bulimia nervosa affects predominantly white, affluent women. However, a recent study indicates this may not, in fact, be the case. Bulimia nervosa, may rather affect mostly black woman and those with lower incomes.

USC economist Michelle Goeree as well as fellow economists John Ham from the University of Maryland and Daniela Iorio from the Universitat de Autonoma in Barcelona Spain conducted a 10-year survey with more than 2,300 girls in schools in California, Washington, D.C., and Ohio to determine who really is affected by bulimia. Starting at age 9 or 10 years old the participants were surveyed every year regarding their eating habits as well as psychological characteristics that often accompany bulimia, such as depression and body image.

The results showed that black girls were 50% more likely to suffer from bulimic behavior, including binging and purging, than white girls. More specifically, while 1.7% of white girls were clinically bulimic, 2.6% of black girls were clinically bulimic. Overall, approximately 2.2% of all girls who were surveyed were clinically bulimic, which is close to the national average. Black girls also scored higher on a commonly used index to gage the severity of bulimia.

Bulimia was present among 1.5% of girls who had at least one parent with a college education. However, 3.3% of girls with parents with a high school diploma or less suffered from bulimia.

Finally, girls who had the lowest incomes were significantly more likely to suffer from bulimia than those in the highest income brackets.

The researchers assert that most studies of bulimia get their data from hospitals. Those who are able to be treated in a hospital are most often those who have good insurance and/or can pay out of pocket for eating disorder treatment. Those who have low income or who do not have a lot of education may not have insurance or may not be able to afford eating disorder treatment.

The researchers argue that bulimia may be better off classified as an addiction, given the presence of bulimia among lower income and less educated individuals. This way, they argue, more federal, state, and local treatment programs can be created for bulimia and the out-of-pocket costs to families can be reduced.


Psych Central: Black Girls At Risk for Bulimia

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Donation Button

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all having a good week so far!

Like many others, I am struggling in this tough economy. While I receive Disability benefits due to my health condition, it fails to fully cover life's expenses. If you enjoy this blog (or any of my other blogs) or if this blog has ever helped you in any way, perhaps you may consider making a donation to support my blog. Perhaps you want to buy me a gallon of milk, lunch, or some cat food for my companion cats. There is no donation that's too small, and all donations to support my blog and my writing career will be greatly appreciated.

If you wish to donate at any time, please do so by clicking on the, "Donate," button on the sidebar (to the right). Thank you so much for reading my updates. I hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Self-Injury Study Needs Participants - Compensation Offered

I'm going to try to post here more often. I really miss posting on this blog, and I miss helping people with the info provided here - or at least I *hope* it has helped someone.

This came from a researcher. Please spread the word if you feel like it or get the chance!

Would you like to help us understand how to help people who self-harm?

Self-injury (sometimes called “self-harm”) involves harming yourself on purpose. Some examples include cutting or burning yourself, taking an overdose of pills, or banging your head. Right now, very little is known about why people start or stop self-harming. The Personality and Emotion Research Lab (PERL), a research team from Simon Fraser University in Canada, is conducting a study to learn more about the experiences of people who self-harm, and we want your help! We are interested in how emotions, life experiences, stress and coping styles affect self-harm. We hope that this research will help other people understand more about why people self-harm and what they can do to help.

What you can do: If you want to participate in this study, you will fill out online questionnaires on self-harm, emotions, coping, symptoms, and life events. These questionnaires will take approximately 2 hours to complete.

Who can participate: We are looking for people who currently self-harm (whether you are trying to stop or not) AND those who have self-harmed in the past and quit.

What’s in it for you: Participants who complete the questionnaires will be paid $5 CAD (either online gift certificates (e.g., Amazon) or money transfers via PayPal). You can also choose to participate in our long-term study, where you will fill out a shorter version of the questionnaires every three months for two years. You will be paid $5 CAD (either online gift certificates or money) each time you complete a set of questionnaires (about 30 min each), and you will get a $15 CAD bonus once you have completed all 9 sets for a total of $60 CAD. Telling us about your experiences will give us important information on how self-harm changes over time, and could help develop and improve treatments for people who want to stop self-harming.

Please contact us at if you are interested in participating or if you have any questions.

Thank you,

Personality and Emotion Research Laboratory (PERL)

Simon Fraser University

Department of PsychologyRCB5246, 8888
University DriveBurnaby, BC, Canada V5A 1S6

Monday, December 22, 2008

People Obey Authority, Even if It Means Hurting Others

After decades, someone has finally been able to replicate Stanley Milgram's experiment concerning authority figures' effect on obedience.

For anyone who is not familiar with the experiment, in the 1960s, Stanley Milgram at Yale University conducted a series of experiments where he told volunteers he was studying the effects of punishment on learning. In each experiment, Milgram told the volunteer that he or she would either be acting as a teacher or a learner. The volunteer was always the teacher while a confederate (a person working with Milgram) played the role of "learner."

The learner's arms were strapped into a chair and electrodes attached to him. The volunteer witnessed this as well as the learner becoming apprehensive, telling both the volunteer and Milgram he had a heart condition.

Milgram then took the volunteer into an adjoining room, where he or she could communicate with the learner over an intercom. The teacher was instructed to read the learner questions on a verbal memory test, and was told every time the learner got a question wrong he or she must administer an electric shock to him. The electric shock generator consisted of shocks from 15-450 volts in intensity. Each time the learner got an answer incorrect, the teacher had to administer an increasingly stronger shock to him.

Initially, the learner did not respond to the shocks. However, when he received a shock of 150 volts, the learner cried out in pain. He continued to cry out in pain and even insisted the study be stopped, but Milgram insisted that the study must go on, that the volunteers must continue to administer the shocks for every incorrect answer.

The results of Milgram's study may surprise you greatly. Likewise, the results of the replicated study may surprise you.

To read more about the two studies and their results, please visit:
People Obey Authority Figures, Even When It Hurts Others

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Enhanced" Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Individuals with Eating Disorders

A new study in the United Kingdom shows a new variation on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy may be effective in treating a majority of individuals with eating disorders.

Eating disorders in the UK are classified somewhat differently than they are in the United States. Mainly, they classify eating disorders as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and "atypical" eating disorders, which is the United States' equivalent to Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. "Atypical" eating disorders in the UK are defined as having both features of anorexia and bulimia, such as self-starvation, binge-eating, making oneself throw up purposefully, taking laxatives, and exercising excessively.

The new "enhanced" Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy was developed from the previous form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which was specifically designed for individuals suffering from bulimia nervosa by Professor Christopher Fairburn, who is a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. He also developed the new "enhanced" Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, intended to help even more individuals suffering from eating disorders.

Fairburn and his colleagues conducted a study with 154 individuals suffering from eating disorders. Two types of enhanced Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT-E) were developed, a simple version and a more complex version. The simple version focused on the primary issue of the eating disorder while the more complex version of CBT-E focused on the eating disorder as well as other features that are commonly associated with eating disorders, such as depression, self-esteem, and perfectionism.

Each individual participating in the study received 20 50-minute sessions of simple or complex CBT-E over the span of 20 weeks.

The researchers discovered that participants responded well to both types of CBT-E and that these improvements held over a one-year period, the time in which relapse into an eating disorder is most common. More specifically, of the participants who completed treatment, two-thirds made a full recovery from their eating disorders. Although one-third of participants relapsed into their eating disorders, they maintained significant improvement.

This study seems to indicate that CBT-E is an effective treatment for a majority of individuals who are suffering from eating disorders. Fairburn and his colleagues are also conducting a large study in order to measure the effectiveness of CBT-E on individuals suffering from anorexia, specifically.

Psych Central: Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Most Common Eating Disorder in America

While Anorexia and Bulimia are given most of the media and clinical research attention, it is actually Binge Eating Disorder that is the most common eating disorder in America today, according to a recently published survey.

Researchers at the Harvard University Medical School along with those at McLean Psychiatric Hospital interviewed 9,000 individuals between the years of 2001-2003 about their psychological histories and their eating habits. They interviewed individuals from all across the nation in order to collect more generalizeable data.

The researchers diagnosed less than 1% of women and 0.3% of men with anorexia, in which the main proponent of the disorder is self-starvation. Additionally, 0.5% of men and 1.5% of women were found to have bulimia, an eating disorder constituted by the binge-eating-purging cycle.

Finally, the researchers determined 2% of men and 3.5% of women suffered from binge eating disorder, significantly more individuals than those who suffered from either anorexia or bulimia. Binge eating disorder was defined as out-of-control eating, even after one felt full - at least twice a week.

One of the authors of the study pointed out those who struggle with binge eating are at risk for obesity, diabetes, certain types of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. In addition, the lead author of the study asserts binge eating disorder should be given more attention, given its high prevalence.

The study noted those between the ages of 18-29 are most likely to have an eating disorder, and individuals with eating disorders often struggle with depression and/or anxiety as well.

Personally, I am glad to see more research being done on binge eating disorder. When I was writing my thesis in college on personality traits and behavioral characteristics common among those with eating disorder, I found very few studies to cite in my paper. I am glad binge eating disorder is beginning to receive the attention it deserves, and I hope more individuals who struggle with binge eating disorder will be able to get help for their struggles more easily.


Fox News: Survey: Binging Most Common Eating Disorder in America:,2933,249481,00.html?sPage=fnc/health/mentalhealth

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Hi everyone,

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted. I'm going to try to be better about this. I have run across a lot of interesting information I want to share with you over the next several days or weeks. I look forward to writing to everyone again soon!