What is Dysregulated Eating?

Dysregulated eating covers a wide range of behaviors commonly associated with Eating Disorders, and includes anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, self-induced vomiting, purging and food restriction. DBT – dialectical behavior therapy – has been shown to be effective for many people struggling with these issues, since it is based on helping them understand the triggers for their behaviors and how to respond differently to them.

How Can DBT Help?

Many underlying issues of dysregulated eating are now understood as mechanisms people use in order to cope with their emotional vulnerability. Clinical studies of other treatment modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy, have shown to be only partially effective for some patients. By tackling the underlying issues of emotional vulnerability and helping patients regulate their emotions, DBT skills and therapy techniques can play an important part in their treatment plan over the short and long term.

It may be appropriate to try DBT therapy whenever patterns of dysregulated eating are thought to be related to emotion regulation issues.  After all, learning to regulate one’s emotions is one of the four central pillars of DBT skills training, along with Mindfulness Skills, Distress Tolerance and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Learning about emotion regulation can help patients to identify and label their emotions, to identify obstacles to changing those emotions, to reduce emotional reactivity, and to learn how to change their mood and avoid destructive behaviors by increasing positive emotions.

DBT for Overcontrol

Moreover, researchers are also investigating how DBT skills can be taught to people who restrict their food consumption as a treatment for their tendencies toward over-control. People who typically restrict their eating are struggling with anxiety and fears about what they should or should not eat, and often this serves the function of numbing their emotions and feeling in control. DBT skills are often useful for disorders associated with Excessive Self Control, with a related therapy known as Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO-DBT) demonstrating effectiveness for this population. Machon Dvir is preparing to provide RO-DBT treatment solutions and skills groups for this group of patients.

We work with patients who want to regulate their eating, their emotions and other aspects of their behavior, and who recognize the need to overcome these destructive behavior patterns in order to lead healthier lives. We provide individual DBT therapy together with careful medical monitoring, and offer patients that are suited for it the opportunity to participate in a DBT skills group.