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What's New in Eating Disorder Research

A Presentation by Mirasol Clinicians to the University of Arizona College of Medicine Psychiatry Grand Rounds.

Diane Ryan, LPC, MA, Executive Director

Mirasol clinicians were recently featured at the University of Arizona College of Medicine Psychiatry Grand Rounds. Speakers included Medical Director Stephen Remolina, Executive Director Diane Ryan, Clinical Director Maeve Shaughnessy, Nutrition Director Anne Ganje and Trauma Therapist Ann Twilley Garcia.

The purpose of the Psychiatry Grand Rounds series is to provide mental health professionals with updates on psychiatric topics with the goal of increasing knowledge, competence and patient care. The full presentation is available on the Univeristy of Arizona's Biomedical Communications website at

Ryan highlights some of the latest research on eating disorders, especially binge eating disorder. Ongoing research has shown that the suicidality associated with binge eating disorder can presage more serious psychological disorders later in life. Ryan also notes that contrary to popular belief, there is very little evidence that anti-depressants are effective in the treatment of anorexia nervosa.

CBT remains the gold standard for treatment interventions, but it's not enough. Ryan says that "because of the complexity of eating disorders, we need to employ many different treatment approaches."

Insomnia and PTSD are among the most common disorders that co-occur with eating disorders. Ryan estimates that about 80% of Mirasol's residential clients suffer from some form of PTSD or insomnia, and recent research indicates that there may be a bidirectional relationship. While there's a lot of research on genetics, so far no specific gene has been identified for anorexia. However, there appears to be a 50% to 75% heritability factor for binge eating disorder. New studies show rising incidence of eating disorders in the LGBTQ population.

Barriers to effective treatment include the general stigma associated with all mental illnesses, lack of knowledge of the medical consequences and lack of familiarity with treatment options and resources.

Ryan concludes with a list of "dos" and "don'ts" for evaluating and treating eating disorder clients.

More Videos in This Series

  • Dr. Stephen Remolina The Complexity of Eating Disorders
    Stephen Remolina, MD, Medical Director
    Dr. Remolina shares some of his experiences in working with eating disorders and demonstrates how complicated they can be by presenting case histories for bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder.
  • Maeve Shaughnessy Treating Eating Disorders: An Integrative Approach
    Maeve Shaughnessy, MS, LPC, Clinical Director
    Eating disorders rarely occur in a vacuum. They are frequently accompanied by anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder, so it's essential to treat the whole person — mind, body and spirit.
  • Ann Twilley Garcia EMDR in the Treatment of Eating Disorders
    Ann Twilley Garcia, MA, LPC, Trauma Therapist
    By accessing traumatic memories in a safe environment, EMDR enables clients to develop new and more positive associations between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories or information.
  • Anne Ganje The Registered Dietitian's Role in the Treatment of Eating Disorders
    Anne Ganje, RD, Nutrition Director
    The dietitian's role is challenging because she is in charge of the clients' food. This can be very activating and stressful for clients, but it also provides many opportunities for the client to process anger.