Exploring the Emotional Rollercoaster of Eating Disorder Recovery

The recovery process can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. Let’s walk through some ways to help regulate your emotions throughout treatment.

Recovery from Eating Disorders and Emotions

If you feel like your emotions are all over the place, we want to reassure you that this is extremely common for someone battling an eating disorder. In one moment, you may feel hyped up and excited to beat your disorder. A few hours (or minutes) later, you may feel overwhelmed with fear or despair.

In fact, one study showed that people with increased eating disorder symptoms were more likely to have difficulty identifying their emotions, regulating their emotions, and tend to struggle with optimism.1

This may be related to a combination of factors, including underlying conditions such as anxiety, depression, or OCD. Plus, when your body is malnourished, your brain is also malnourished. This can exacerbate underlying mental health issues in addition to increasing irritability and difficulty concentrating.

Many people with eating disorders also find their relationships strained due to isolation or tension with their worried loved ones. It’s no wonder there would be a rollercoaster of emotions during recovery.

Therapy for Eating Disorder Recovery

Just because emotional dysregulation is a common part of recovery doesn’t mean it’s a healthy place to be long-term. The good news is that there are many therapeutic strategies to help with emotional regulation during recovery. Let’s walk through four types of therapy that can help.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Instead of suppressing emotions and pretending that they aren’t there, ACT helps you recognize that your thoughts are simply just that, thoughts. ACT can help you accept all of your experiences, the good and the bad, just as they are and then make choices that align with your beliefs and values.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a form of therapy that can help you accept experiences as they are while simultaneously working to change unhelpful behaviors. The skills learned from DBT can help you manage intense emotions, increase flexibility with your thinking, and promote healthy relationships.

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP)

This form of therapy can significantly improve anxiety, OCD, phobias, and eating disorders. During ERP, you are exposed to the very things that make you anxious with the goal of reducing the anxiety to that trigger over time. And don’t worry, you’ll have a therapist to support you along the process.

Experiential Therapy

Art, music, yoga, and games can be powerful tools for your recovery. Through experiential therapy, you can develop skills to work through challenges and improve your self-confidence. This may be especially helpful for people who find traditional talk therapy difficult because it provides another way to express their emotions.

Hope and Recovery from Your Eating Disorder

The road to recovery can feel long, but there is hope at the end of the tunnel. The friendly, compassionate staff at Toledo Center are prepared to walk you through all of the emotions associated with treatment. To learn more about how we can help, give us a call today at 419-885-8800 or fill out our contact form.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6441396/

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