Treating eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive tendencies

Posted on 06/07/19 09:00:am Eating disorders and OCD


Share this article:

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result of an eating disorder. Oftentimes, when people do reach out for treatment, their recovery can be further complicated by co-occurring obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

“According to the best available research, if a person is diagnosed with an eating disorder, there’s a 25% chance they are also experiencing OCD at the same time,” says Dr. Nicholas Farrell, clinical supervisor, Eating Disorder Recovery at Rogers Behavioral Health. “OCD is often connected with eating disorders since many behaviors may overlap, such as obsessive thoughts about food and food rituals, along with unhelpful beliefs,” Farrell explains.

Signs a person with an eating disorder may also have OCD

Compulsive behaviors often observed with eating disorder behaviors include:

  • Excessive exercise
  • Constantly body checking or examining appearance in mirrors
  • Counting calories or caloric intake
  • Frequently weighing oneself
  • Use of diuretics or laxatives to reduce weight
  • Following particular “rules” or “rituals” when eating a meal
  • Rigidly tracking intake of carbohydrates, sugars, fats, etc.

Evidence-based treatment that works

Dr. Farrell says eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders have historically been treated separately, but now a specific treatment technique known as exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) addresses both disorders at the same time.

Help at Rogers Behavioral Health

Dr. Farrell says Rogers was one of the first treatment centers in the world to publish scientific data showing that using ERP to simultaneously treat eating disorders and OCD leads to a lessening of symptoms in both.

Rogers offers eating disorder treatment for ages 8 and up in locations throughout Wisconsin and nationwide. To find the location nearest you, call 800-767-4411 or request a free screening.

If you think you may have an eating disorder or OCD, please take our eating disorder quiz or OCD quiz. Of course, this is not a diagnosis, but can bring some peace of mind if you are experiencing anxiety over possibly having an eating disorder.

Call 800-767-4411 or go to to request a free screening.