Behavioural Psychotherapy

Clinical Section

Treatment of Compulsive Over-exercising in Anorexia Nervosa: A Case Study

Clive Longa1 and Jennifer Smitha2

a1 Department of Psychology, St. Andrew's Hospital, Northampton, NN1 5DG

a2 Academic Department of Psychiatry, Leicester General Hospital, Gwendolen Road, Leicester LE5 4PN

Despite being a long recognized feature of Anorexia Nervosa, exercising has been largely neglected as a topic for research and treatment. An increasing cultural emphasis on fitness has highlighted the dangers of becoming addicted to exercise and its role in the development and maintenance of Anorexia Nervosa. Most estimates of the incidence of exercise addiction in the anorexic population are high, and the behaviour would appear to pre- and post-date the eating disorder.

In view of this, the development of an effective treatment method for this particular problem is needed. One such approach that employs cognitive behavioural techniques, including exposure and response prevention is described and illustrated by case example.