Up to one third of individuals with an eating disorder present with symptoms of ADHD, while those with ADHD have a three-fold risk of developing an eating disorder.
Given that response to eating disorder treatment is poorer among those with co-existing ADHD yet treating the ADHD with stimulant medication poses additional risks such as appetite suppression and further weight loss, a well-considered approach to addressing both presentations is paramount.
Eating disorder clinicians often receive requests for an assessment or treatment of ADHD from the clients they are working with. This may pose a conundrum similar to what the clients themselves experience, including feeling overwhelmed and not knowing what to focus on, at what stage, and how to do so effectively.
The presentation will combine a review of the literature with clinical experience in the treatment of eating disorders and ADHD to provide a framework to delineate treatment priorities when these two conditions co-exist.
We will be covering a framework for treatment priorities:
- An overview of ADHD for eating disorder clinicians
- Data about ADHD and eating disorder co-morbidity
- Treating eating disorders when there is ADHD – adaptations required for psychological therapy
- Treating ADHD when there is an eating disorder – assessment considerations, benefits and risks of medications
- Rationale for order of treatment priorities
Dr Nga Tran is a consultant psychiatrist with over 14 years of experience in mental health in the public and private sector treating a wide range of psychiatric illnesses.
In the past few years her area of focus and expertise has been in the assessment and treatment of eating disorders, working at the Centre for Integrative Health in a multidisciplinary team.
Her approach is one that views mental health problems as a complex interplay of biological factors and the person’s culture, environment, events and experiences. She believes in helping people engage with the right type of help at the right stage of their journey, working in a collaborative way, drawing on the person or the system’s strengths, and providing the necessary skills and resources required to recover. She has skills and expertise in therapy techniques such as Enhanced Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Maudsley Family Based Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She can advise and supervise the judicious use of medications when appropriate.
She is passionate about working alongside other disciplines and taking a holistic and systemic view of the presenting problem, and her work comes from a belief that each person can recover from their illness to live a rich and meaningful life.