Category: Therapy

Man looking down

Bulimia in Men: Risk Factors and Treatment

Many people assume that eating disorders such as bulimia only affect women, but according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), in the USA alone, 10 million men will be affected by eating disorders at some point in their lives. Of those, approximately 1.5 million will have bulimia.

Bulimia is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder that is characterized by binging on large amounts of food in a short period of time and then purging to avoid weight gain. Purging can come in the form of self-induced vomiting, laxative and diuretic misuse, and excessive exercise.

Risk Factors

Body image pressure is one of the biggest risk factors of an eating disorder in men. The factors behind men’s dissatisfaction with their body are complex. Male weight and body image concerns are different from those of women – where women strive for thinness, men generally want to gain muscle mass. One important contributor to men’s body image issues is society’s portrayal of the ideal male body as being muscular and toned. This ideal is further perpetuated by the media and the fitness industry. Any attempts to attain this unrealistic “ideal” body often increases one’s susceptibility to eating disorders.

However, bulimia isn’t always about body image. Sometimes, men may develop bulimia as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, or other uncomfortable feelings and thoughts. Both men and women report that bulimia provides temporary relief from their stressors. This is because bulimia is a maladaptive coping mechanism, as well as a mental illness. If left unchecked, it can lead to a variety of physical and mental health consequences, such as negatively impacting the growth and development of adolescent boys, and compromising the bones, heart, and endocrine system of adult men.

Treatment Considerations

Unfortunately, eating disorders in men are under-diagnosed and under-treated. Men get treatment for eating disorders less frequently than women do, likely because of shame, stigmas against mental health treatment, the myth that only women have eating disorders, or other stereotypes that make it hard for men to seek help.

For men, bulimia treatment in Westport and elsewhere requires a gender-sensitive approach. Some men may feel uncomfortable when they participate in a predominantly female treatment program. Because of this, all-male therapeutic groups are often ideal for men dealing with an eating disorder. These all-male groups encourage men to disclose their issues with their body image or with food with other men, thereby creating a space where they can help each other feel safer when revealing problems with self-image. Having men talk about their struggle with bulimia may also dispel the belief that it is a “women’s disease.”

One thing to remember about bulimia is that, despite popular notions, it does not discriminate according to gender, sexual orientation, sex, age, size, race, income, educational level, or ethnicity. Anyone can develop an eating disorder.

Whether male or female, The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health will help you get appropriate treatment for your eating disorder. We treat a range of conditions, from eating disorders and anxiety to substance abuse and depressive disorders. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services.

Women feet standing on weighing scale

Working it Out: How to Help a Loved One Deal With Exercise Bulimia

The American Addiction Centers says that about 4.7 million females and 1.5 million males in the U.S. have bulimia. It’s a potentially fatal mental health disorder that involves binge eating a large amount of food and then vomiting it after. The center says patients often feel significant remorse after their binge and their purge manifests in different ways, apart from self-induced vomiting. It can take the form of prolonged starvation or the use of laxatives regularly.

However, a newer form called “exercise bulimia” has been identified by experts. According to a Healthline article on the disorder, exercise bulimia involves overexercising to burn calories from a binge session. If you think your loved one has exercise bulimia, here’s what you can do to help them.

Know the Symptoms

Part of helping your loved one deal with exercise bulimia is by understanding its symptoms. The Healthline piece, medically reviewed by the University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Medicine, says you should look out for warning signs like worrying too much about working out.

While exercise may be a healthy activity, symptoms like being obsessed with calories burned during a workout, worrying about their body’s appearance too much, and getting angered when they miss a scheduled exercise session. Apart from the direct symptoms, the article also says that overexercising may cause an absence of menstruation among women. Cardiac issues like arrhythmia are also possible because of the stress it causes on the heart.

An Esquire article chronicling the author’s struggle with exercise bulimia cited the link between this disorder and body dysmorphia. He stated that male weightlifters often obsess over feeling too skinny. They push themselves to work out to feel that they’re developing their body into an adequate image. In other words, masculine. Jennifer Rollin, the psychotherapist the author interviewed, said that this way of thinking is dangerous, especially for those who have underlying inclinations to overexercising or eating disorders.

Peaceful Acknowledgment and Suggestions

Apart from getting mad about missed exercise sessions, people who have exercise bulimia feel angry when people call them out because they overexercise. As hard as it is to understand, you shouldn’t antagonize your loved one for their disorder. You’ll only push them away. Understand that they mostly have little to no control over their behavior.

Rollins says that one of the few ways people can deal with their exercise bulimia is by setting workout goals. If you sense that they’re overworking themselves, ask them to listen to their body and slow down to avoid hurting themselves. Once they realize that they might get seriously injured, suggest a more manageable routine. This may help them realize their problem and de-escalate their exercise habits.

When to Get Professional Help

If they still aren’t listening to what you say or relapse immediately after taking your suggestions, it may be time to recommend going to a therapist. This way, they get to learn from a professional how to cope with their condition.

A therapist, psychiatrist, and dietitian can help them become better at managing their relationship with food and exercise, according to another psychotherapist, Kate Rosenblatt, in an interview with Men’s Health. A mental health expert can address underlying issues linked to the disorder, such as anxiety and mood disorders, by creating a bulimia treatment plan.

As the saying goes, too much of anything is bad for you — even if it’s a beneficial activity like exercise. This disorder may lead to serious physical injuries due to overworking, an unhealthy reproductive system, and heart problems. Help your loved one by understanding their situation, de-escalating it, and calling a professional when worse comes to worst. The road to recovery isn’t easy, but it’s better when you have someone to run (or walk) with you.

Find the Right Treatment Center

Skinny woman sitting on her bed

The Healthline article about exercise bulimia says that cognitive behavior therapy is also effective in addressing the symptoms of this disorder. Here at The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, in Westport, CT, we offer treatment programs for eating disorders like binge eating and bulimia, which include cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy. Our experts help patients identify and understand the underlying problems behind their condition and equip them with healthy coping skills.

Contact us today to find the best treatment plan for your loved one.

emotional connections

Dialectical Behavior Therapy: The Four Modules

Originally designed by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. in the 1980s, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was developed to help those struggling with borderline personality disorder. DBT merges eastern approaches and western therapies, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which emphasizes a person’s ability to change their behaviors and thoughts. DBT is based on the assumption that self-destructive behaviors are caused by an inability to manage intense emotion.

Though originally created to treat borderline personality disorder, DBT has also been found effective for an array of mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder and bulimia nervosa. As such, it can be – and has been – used as eating disorder treatment in Westport and elsewhere.

The Four Modules of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

In order to teach its patients how to manage their symptoms and engage in more effective coping behaviors, DBT offers the following four skill modules:

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is mastering how to be in control of your mind, instead of the other way around. This does not mean controlling your thoughts; rather, it is practicing the ability to focus your attention on the present moment without judgment.

Often, people with eating disorders find it difficult to stay in the moment and may have intrusive thoughts that direct their behavior. Mindfulness can disperse these thoughts and redirect the patient’s attention to the present moment so that they can take note of and accept whatever they are feeling at that time.

Emotion Regulation

dealing with emotions

Emotion regulation teaches how to describe and observe emotions without self-hatred, fear, or judgment. More often than not, people with eating disorders have difficulty not only with communicating their emotions, but also with identifying and experiencing them. Instead of suppressing or rejecting emotions, emotion regulation emphasizes the adaptive nature of feelings and teaches how to generate more positive ones.

Distress Tolerance

This skill is about learning how to get through a crisis without spiraling into despair and actions that may make matters worse. Often, people who lack distress tolerance skills will turn to their eating disorder as a way to cope with overwhelming emotions and difficult situations. Since the symptoms of the disorder are usually perceived as providing immediate relief in the face of distress, mastering the ability to tolerate and accept emotional pain is essential to recovery.

Distress tolerance aims to lessen harmful, impulsive behaviors, such as bingeing, purging, and self-harm, by giving alternative ways to cope with negative thoughts and emotions.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Those with eating disorders often report difficulties with putting their desires before those of others and saying “no.” They also deal with self-esteem issues. All these factors can interfere with the development of healthy relationships and cause one to feel invalidated. When people feel invalidated, they are more likely to feel negative emotions and the urge for self-destructive behavior. After all, the ability to maintain fulfilling relationships and the ability to negotiate your needs with others are central to wellbeing. Interpersonal effectiveness provides concrete strategies on how to effectively communicate with other people and how to improve assertiveness and self-esteem.

DBT, with its four modules, is just one way to treat eating disorders. At The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, we offer an array of treatments, including DBT and CBT, for a variety of conditions, such as anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and substance abuse. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

Therapy Session

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Works: Types and Processes Involved

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of treatment where therapists encourage their clients to identify and address the feelings and thoughts that influence their decisions to engage in certain types of maladaptive behavior. Ideally, this allows individuals to move away from destructive thought patterns that have a negative influence on their health, behavior, and emotions.

Therapists work with those suffering from all types of disorders. This includes anxiety, depression, specific phobias, and addictions. The treatment strategy is highly focused on an individual person and can be modified to fit with particular goals.

Additionally, this type of therapy involves the therapist taking on an instructional role. Their client is meant to listen to suggested strategies and use those to look into their own thoughts and feelings. They need to be able to discover how their internal states may be impacting their behavior.

What are some types of CBT?

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is focused on changing the irrational beliefs that an individual may hold. It involves making specific identifications of the underlying beliefs and challenging them constantly. In time, therapy allows the individual to recognize and alter these thought patterns on their own.

Cognitive therapy focuses on altering inaccurate and distorted patterns of thinking, emotional responses, and behaviors. There’s also multimodal therapy. This addresses seven modalities: imagery, affect, sensation, behavior, interpersonal factors, cognition, and biological considerations. This type of therapy argues that psychological concerns can be addressed by looking into these interconnected factors.

Dialectical behavioral therapy centers on the use of strategies like emotional regulation and mindfulness to confront various thought patterns and behaviors.

What are the stages of CBT?

early stages of cognitive behavioral therapy

Stage 1

The initial stage of CBT involves a therapist working with their client to identify problematic beliefs they may have. The therapist determines specific destructive patterns of thought and why they are destructive to the client.

This is a form of functional analysis. Clients are to understand how their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in certain situations can then contribute to the emergence and persistence of maladaptive forms of behavior.

Clinicians work to help clients through this often-difficult process. Clients begin on the path to self-discovery. Ideally, they are then able to move on to the succeeding stages of the treatment process.

Stage 2

CBT therapists are determined to equip their client with the necessary skills to face real-world situations that may have triggered maladaptive behaviors in the past. This can involve teaching new and healthier ways to cope with these situations. When these mechanisms are used, they should be able to reduce the likelihood of a relapse.

Later Stages

Recovery and the success of CBT is gradual. The client needs to be able to practice and exercise their new skills in real-world applications. They can start slow and attain reachable goals by setting small milestones on the way to full recovery.

Try CBT with clinicians from the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy in Westport, CT. We are a private group practice that provides comprehensive and individualized mental health services for children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families. Our therapy programs provide you with support and resources to help you navigate and recover from emotional and behavioral challenges.

Contact us at 1-888-745-3372 or fill out our form today.

people talking

Talk Therapy: How CBT Can Help You Overcome Your Disorder

According to the National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists, cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that “emphasizes the important role of thinking in how we feel and what we do.” It is a kind of therapy that utilizes conversation to help you manage your problems and change the way that you think and behave, which can make you feel better about life.

Most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be used to help people cope with the following mental and physical health problems:

  • Alcoholism
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Sleep issues like insomnia

Advantages of CBT

There are many advantages to getting CBT. Here are just a few of them:

  • Raises self-esteem and confidence – Low self-esteem is often at the root of many disorders. With CBT, patients learn how to build self-esteem by working towards a solution to their problems. CBT also uses positive affirmations and expectations.
  • As effective as medication – According to research, CBT can be just as effective as medication in treating mental disorders such as depression. Coupled with medication, CBT can help patients recover from their mental disorder.
  • Provides a support network – CBT provides a support network for people recovering from their disorder. Patients know that they have people that they can turn to and lean on as they work through their problems.
  • Creation of positive thought – With many mental disorders, negative thought patterns can take over the patient’s life. When faced with difficult situations, patients default to destructive, negative thinking. CBT trains patients to develop more positive, realistic ways of thinking.
  • Anger management – Controlling your anger is one of the things that you learn when you take CBT sessions. CBT teaches patients how to address the underlying issues that cause their emotions to become overwhelming.
  • Better communication skills – It is difficult to maintain relationships when you are suffering from depression, social anxiety, and addiction. With CBT, patients learn how to communicate their feelings healthily, without feeling shame or becoming angry.
  • Improved coping skills – CBT gives patients avenues to deal with stressful situations such as grief and trauma. Patients learn to express their feelings instead of bottling things up.
  • Prevents relapse – By teaching patients how to identify their problems and use healthy coping mechanisms, CBT provides patients with the tools they need to prevent relapses. With CBT, patients are better equipped to recognize thought patterns that they should avoid.

It is important to note that, while it has many advantages, CBT is not a cure-all for mental disorders. It can’t eliminate your problems, on its own, but it can help you manage them in a way that is positive and healthy. It requires work on your part, but it is worth it.

If you’re searching for places to go for CBT in Westport, Connecticut, look no further than The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health. We treat a variety of illnesses and situations, such as anxiety disorders, trauma, substance abuse, marital conflict, self-harm, depressive disorders, and others. For more information on our services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We would be more than happy to help you.

Daughter giving a comforting hug

Keeping It Together: How Post-Divorce Therapy Helps Families Heal

Divorce is an unfortunate reality for a lot of families in the country. Although some divorces may stem from abusive behaviors or infidelity, many are the result of irreconcilable differences, unresolved issues, or a relationship grown distant.

While the act of divorcing is primarily a choice made by the married couple, its repercussions extend beyond the couple – which is why family counseling is so important. In Westport, Connecticut, post-divorce therapy is available for couples and families going through the divorce process.

Life after divorce can be tough, tiring, and draining. However, with the right type of therapy, couples and families can find the strength to move on. Here are some benefits of post-divorce therapy.

Support

Divorce is an emotionally taxing time for everyone involved, from the couple in question to their children, and even their extended family. Post-divorce therapy can help people cope with the emotional and mental stress that comes with the divorce process.

Post-divorce therapy gives people the support to understand who they are as individuals outside of a marriage, or as individuals who are no longer part of a “nuclear” family unit. More importantly, therapy will also help people identify and understand problematic behaviors within themselves in order to correct these. This allows the family to cope with feelings of anger and anxiety in a healthy way.

Structure

Not only does divorce take up a substantial amount of emotional energy, it can also take over a family’s life. Negativity, frequent fighting, and abusive behavior can easily become the norm if positive structures are not put in place.

One of the things that can get a family through the process of a divorce is creating structure.  Providing or reinforcing structure can take the form of creating positive habits, implementing effective time management, and even something as simple as finding the time to talk to your children on a regular basis. Post-divorce therapy allows families and individuals to heal in a contextualized and structured way, minimizing the risk of negative behaviors from spiraling out of control.

Resources

Perhaps the most important part of post-divorce therapy is how it provides people with actionable resources to help them through the process. Therapy not only provides people structure and support during a session, it also helps people support themselves outside of the therapist’s clinic.

In post-divorce therapy, people will learn exercises that will maximize their mindfulness of others, inspire them to validate each other more often, and help regulate their emotions more effectively. The goal of post-divorce therapy is to let each member of the family know that they are heard, understood, and accepted. In this way, everyone involved can move forward in a positive manner.

At The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, we believe that every individual deserves a chance at recovering from the emotional and mental stress of divorce, which is why our therapists take their time to get to know you so that they can create a comprehensive therapy plan that addresses your emotional needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you heal your mind.

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