Eating Disorders

Table of Contents

About Us

Michelle Barratt Psychology is located in Toowong and Wynnum-Manly, offering premier clinical psychology services focusing on treating eating disorders. Our practice is dedicated to providing top-tier eating disorder treatment in Brisbane, guided by the principle of delivering supportive and effective therapeutic interventions. We are committed to helping our clients feel safe, heard, and understood, empowering them with the necessary skills for future challenges and recovery.

If you are uncertain about your circumstances or require guidance on what to do next, whether it’s identifying your needs or arranging an appointment, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team of eating disorder psychologists and therapists in Brisbane is here to assist you.

Unfortunately, the prevalence of eating disorders is on the rise, a trend attributed not only to increased awareness and understanding of these conditions but also to mounting statistics indicating a higher number of affected individuals. It’s becoming increasingly common within our community to know someone impacted by an eating disorder, whether it’s a friend, family member, or oneself. Recognising that eating disorders are treatable marks the initial step toward addressing this significant health concern.


Eating disorders are severe mental health conditions that disrupt an individual’s relationship with food, body image, and overall health. These disorders can lead to critical physical and psychological effects and necessitate specialised treatment. Treatment typically involves a holistic approach, including individual therapy, group sessions, and family involvement, complemented by nutritional counselling, medication management, and other supportive measures as needed.

It is crucial to remember that treatment for eating disorders is highly individualised. Effective recovery relies on a tailored treatment plan designed to meet the specific needs and goals of the person. Working with a trained eating disorder psychologist in Brisbane ensures patients receive the personalised care and support essential for recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider is imperative.


Individuals with eating disorders often face complex mental health challenges, with reports indicating that up to 97% have at least one comorbid condition. These additional disorders can significantly complicate the treatment and management of eating disorders. Below, we delve deeper into the most prevalent comorbid conditions:

  1. Depression and Anxiety Disorders: These are the most common mental health conditions associated with eating disorders. The relationship between eating disorders, depression, and anxiety is often bidirectional, where each can exacerbate the other. Addressing these conditions simultaneously is crucial for effective treatment and recovery.
  2. Substance Abuse and Personality Disorders: Nearly as prevalent are issues such as substance abuse and various personality disorders, which further complicate the clinical picture. These disorders can undermine treatment efforts and recovery by introducing additional layers of psychological distress and maladaptive behaviours.
  3. Widespread Health Implications for Adults: Adults with eating disorders are not only prone to psychological disorders but also experience a range of physical health issues. These include elevated risks of cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, depressive disorders, neurological symptoms, and notably higher rates of suicide attempts. The overlap of these conditions underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to treatment that addresses both mental and physical health.
  4. Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders: About 64% of individuals with eating disorders also suffer from anxiety disorders, often predating the eating disorder. This typically begins in childhood, with obsessive-compulsive disorder being the most frequent. Understanding this timeline is vital for targeting early interventions that might prevent the progression of an eating disorder.
  5. Personality Disorders: Experienced by 58% of those with an eating disorder, personality disorders can dramatically shape the approach to treatment and recovery, necessitating highly personalised therapeutic strategies.
  6. Increased Risk Among Adolescents with Diabetes: Adolescents who have diabetes are approximately 2.4 times more likely to develop an eating disorder compared to their peers without diabetes. This statistic highlights the need for targeted screening and preventive measures in this subgroup to mitigate the risk of developing an eating disorder.

Each of these points illuminates the intricate interplay between eating disorders and other mental and physical health conditions, emphasising the necessity for an integrated treatment approach provided by specialised eating disorder therapists in Brisbane. This holistic care is crucial for addressing the multifaceted challenges faced by those struggling with eating disorders.

Author: Michelle Barratt

Body Image Disturbance and Its Impact on Mental Health

Eating disorders profoundly affect mental health, often leading to depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal. One critical aspect of these disorders is body image disturbance, which significantly influences self-esteem. Many individuals suffering from eating disorders struggle with a negative self-perception and low body-image self-esteem, which may drive an obsessive focus on calorie intake, exercise, and body weight. They might adopt strict dietary restrictions to assert control, resulting in rigid and unhealthy eating patterns. Unfortunately, these behaviours can cause severe medical issues as well as intense feelings of failure, guilt, and shame. Therefore, enhancing body image and self-esteem is a crucial component of effective treatment strategies offered by our eating disorder therapists in Brisbane.

The origins of these behaviours are complex and frequently emerge during adolescence. Research indicates several potential triggers, including heightened peer pressure, the pervasive influence of social media, genetic predispositions, and behaviours observed in adults around them. As adolescents embark on self-discovery, grappling with their identity and role in the world, they often fixate on their body image, heavily influenced by societal norms and their genetic and environmental backgrounds. This intense scrutiny can lead to the development of a distorted body image, especially if their self-esteem regarding body image is low.

This fixation on body image can result in excessive calorie consumption, obsessive exercise, and preoccupation with weight. Individuals may excessively worry about their appearance and engage in behaviours to correct perceived flaws. A common feature of many eating disorders is dietary restriction and an obsessive focus on weight monitoring, leading to solitary eating habits, meticulous calorie counting, and avoidance of certain foods. These rigid eating rules often disrupt concentration and social interactions, creating inflexible eating patterns.

For some, the effectiveness of food restriction varies, with some individuals becoming dangerously underweight, necessitating hospitalisation to stabilise their body weight and address severe medical consequences. Apart from the physical symptoms, the psychological ramifications are profound, encompassing depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal. These mental health challenges are compounded by the development of rigid, all-or-nothing thinking patterns, intensifying feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and shame.

Excessive exercise is another common behaviour observed in various eating disorders, often utilised to compensate for perceived overeating. This can trigger cycles of binge eating followed by purging behaviours, such as self-induced vomiting and laxative misuse. These cycles can severely impair an individual’s ability to function in recreational, academic, and professional settings and strain interpersonal relationships with friends and family.

Seek Professional Help from an Eating Disorder Psychologist in Brisbane

If you or someone you care about is facing these difficulties, it’s important to consider seeking professional assistance. Early intervention plays a pivotal role in effectively treating eating disorders. Don’t hesitate to contact Michelle Barratt Psychology, a compassionate and non-judgmental clinical psychology practice based in Brisbane. We’re here to provide support throughout the recovery journey, ensuring that you or your loved one feel understood and guided. Remember, you’re not alone; we comprehend the complexities of these conditions and are well-prepared to assist. Contacting us is simple and straightforward—begin your recovery journey using the email below.

Author: Michelle Barratt

Bulimia Nervosa: Understanding the Disorder and Its Treatment

Bulimia nervosa presents a notable eating disorder marked by recurring cycles of binge eating followed by purging to prevent weight gain. This condition can greatly affect mental well-being, potentially leading to conditions like depression, anxiety, and withdrawal from social interactions. At the core of many eating disorders, including bulimia, lies a distorted body image and low self-esteem related to body image. These factors often drive obsessive behaviours such as monitoring calorie intake, excessive exercise, and weight control. Individuals may impose strict dietary rules to regain a sense of control, which can evolve into inflexible and unhealthy eating patterns.

The repercussions of such behaviours are not solely psychological but can also lead to serious medical complications, including electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal issues, and severe dental problems due to frequent vomiting. The psychological burden includes intense feelings of guilt, shame, and inadequacy, emphasising the importance of addressing and enhancing body image and self-esteem as crucial components of bulimia nervosa treatment.

Development of Bulimia Nervosa

The onset of bulimia nervosa is often associated with adolescence, where various factors contribute to its emergence. Increased peer pressure, the influence of social media, genetic predispositions, and observed behaviours within the family all contribute to this development. As adolescents endeavour to establish their identity, they frequently focus intensely on body image, influenced by societal norms and expectations. Poor self-esteem regarding body image can drive individuals to bulimia as they attempt to manage their appearance through cycles of bingeing and purging.

These behaviours, such as an obsessive preoccupation with diet and exercise, can reinforce themselves based on perceived success. Individuals with bulimia may become fixated on their calorie intake, exercise regimen, and body weight, often resorting to extreme measures to manage these aspects. This can include imposing strict dietary restrictions and engaging in excessive exercise to compensate for binge eating episodes, which are commonly followed by purging behaviours like self-induced vomiting or laxative misuse.

Impact of Bulimia Nervosa

The binge-purge cycle in bulimia nervosa not only poses risks for significant physical health issues but also exacerbates mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, further contributing to social isolation. The disorder often leads individuals to perceive the world in simplistic terms, fostering rigid thinking patterns and emotional distress. Without proper intervention, bulimia can lead to life-threatening complications, including the risk of organ failure.

Treatment and Support from Eating Disorder Psychologists in Brisbane

If you or someone you know is battling bulimia nervosa, it’s crucial to seek help from a professional. Eating disorder therapists in Brisbane at Michelle Barratt Psychology are experienced in dealing with the complexities of bulimia and other eating disorders. Our treatment approaches are designed to interrupt the harmful cycles of bingeing and purging by addressing the underlying issues related to body image and self-esteem, as well as providing medical and psychological support.

Research indicates that the sooner treatment for an eating disorder begins, the more effective it can be. Don’t hesitate to contact our team of compassionate, non-judgmental eating disorder psychologists in Brisbane. We’re here to support you or your loved one through a comprehensive treatment journey. Contact us today using the simple email form provided below. Remember, you are not alone; proper support makes recovery possible.

Author: Michelle Barratt

Anorexia Nervosa: Diagnosis, Impact, and Treatment

Anorexia Nervosa represents a profound eating disorder characterised by an intense dread of gaining weight and a skewed perception of body image, resulting in severe dietary limitations and perilously low body weight. Individuals afflicted with this disorder typically adhere to restrictive eating habits and may resort to measures like suppositories to assert control over their body shape and size. This relentless quest for thinness is often coupled with a deep-seated denial regarding the grave health hazards linked with maintaining such a low body weight.

The Main Criteria for A Diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa

Key diagnostic criteria for Anorexia Nervosa include a persistent, intense desire to remain thin and an overwhelming fear of gaining weight. These feelings drive continuous body-image disturbances that severely skew self-evaluation. Unfortunately, many affected individuals do not recognise the severity of their condition, which can prevent them from seeking the necessary professional help from eating disorder psychologists in Brisbane.

If you notice a child or adolescent exhibiting significant weight loss or adhering to strict dietary rules, it is critical to consult a child psychologist immediately for assessment and care.

Recent Data and the Seriousness of Anorexia Nervosa

Recent statistics indicate that approximately 1 in 100 Australian girls will develop Anorexia Nervosa and about 1 in 10 males are affected, making it a critical public health concern. Typically manifesting during adolescence or early adulthood, Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, emphasising the urgent need for effective treatment and intervention.

Physical and Psychological Impact of Anorexia

The impact of Anorexia Nervosa is profound and can include a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms:

  • Physical Symptoms: These may include dehydration, low blood pressure, osteoporosis, dizziness, fatigue, electrolyte imbalance, and more. These symptoms often lead to severe complications if not adequately treated.
  • Psychological Symptoms: Individuals with Anorexia Nervosa may experience anxiety, depression, mood swings, and what is often referred to as “hungry brain syndrome,” where starvation impacts cognitive functions, leading to poor concentration and obsessive behaviour concerning food.

Comprehensive Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa

The treatment for Anorexia Nervosa at Michelle Barratt Psychology involves a multidisciplinary approach:

  1. Initial Focus: Treatment begins with nutritional counselling and efforts to restore body weight to reverse starvation’s psychological and physical effects.
  2. Ongoing Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) are employed to help clients develop better coping mechanisms and a healthier self-image. These therapies address the deep-seated cognitive and emotional issues contributing to the disorder.
  3. Long-term Management: Long-term management strategies are crucial due to the high risk of relapse. These include ongoing psychological support and monitoring to sustain recovery and prevent relapse.

Prompt and effective therapy is crucial for recovery from Anorexia Nervosa. If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms of this disorder, such as food restriction, being underweight, or undereating, please consider scheduling an appointment with our expert eating disorder therapists in Brisbane for the best possible outcome.

Author: Michelle Barratt

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