What We Treat

Co-Occurring Disorders

What are Co-Occurring Disorders?

A majority of individuals who come to Walden for eating disorder treatment have at least one “co-occurring” disorder. That’s why an integrated treatment approach, addressing both (or multiple) conditions concurrently, is required in many cases.

We’ve found that people who have eating disorders have typically experienced trauma, a distressing experience such as sexual assault, the death of a loved one or a serious injury. They often also suffer from depression, anxiety, self-injuring behavior, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many also have issues with substance abuse. In fact, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that:

  • Half of all people with eating disorders abuse drugs or alcohol, compared with 9% of the general population, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA).
  • Up to 35% of people who abuse drugs or alcohol have an eating disorder, compared with 3% of the general population (CASA).

Given the frequency of co-occurring disorders, it’s not surprising that individuals with eating disorders and other psychiatric disorders or addictions have much in common, including similar brain chemistries and environmental experiences such as trauma, physical and/or sexual abuse, and low self-esteem.

Co-occurring disorders are complex and require an integrated approach, and although they may involve frequent setbacks, there is hope. Treatment that addresses both the eating disorder and other conditions concurrently is often recommended

Diagnosis of Co-Occurring Disorders

In spite of the frequency of co-occurring disorders, many hospitals or clinics admit patients for one disorder, often overlooking other disorders. One reason for this oversight is that individuals diagnosed with addiction or eating disorder are typically sent to a facility specializing in that condition. Facilities that treat addiction rarely treat eating disorders and vice versa.

So how do we address co-occurring disorders at Walden? Our approach is personalized, incorporating the treatment, therapies and skills needed to guide the individual to a full recovery.

We first conduct a complete physical and psychiatric evaluation, including an inventory of drug and alcohol use, by a team that includes a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse, nutritionist and social worker.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Treatment services at Walden include the following levels of care for those of all ages: inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and outpatient care. We offer a full range of programming for individuals with eating disorders.

Our multidisciplinary team of experienced and dedicated doctors, physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians, counselors, social workers, expressive therapists and mental health counselors evaluates each individual and develops a treatment plan that helps to address all symptoms co-occurring with a patient’s eating disorder.

Individuals do not proceed straight from illness to recovery; neither should their treatment. That’s why we have a full continuum of care, aimed at providing care at every level no matter the acuity. If at any point a patient needs to step up or step down, our staff makes the transition as seamless as possible to minimize stress and anxiety. Treatment should adjust to the patient, rather than expecting the patient to adjust to treatment.

We’re here to help.

If you are concerned that you, or someone you love, may have an eating disorder, please fill out the form on this page or call 866-305-2997 to speak with a Walden eating disorders intake specialist.