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Addicted to Exercise: When Movement Takes a Dangerous Turn
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Whether on its own or in collision with another mental health problem, pathological exercise is a serious and debilitating condition. Similar to substance use disorder, compulsive exercise can serve as a maladaptive coping strategy in response to increased arousal, hypervigilance, cognitive ruminations, and other trauma-related symptoms. Yet, in a society that glorifies more as better, movement that takes a turn to compulsive—and dangerous—is far too often missed and dismissed. Further, the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathological movement—a process addiction—can be complicated by the fact that balanced exercise provides clear health and healing benefits. From both a professional and patient perspective, this presentation discusses the intersection of exercise, trauma, substance use disorders, eating disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide.

Utilizing neuroscience findings, the personality and temperament traits that increase an individual’s risk of developing compulsive exercise in response to trauma will be described. This unique presentation discusses evidence-based as well as alternative treatment approaches.

Nicole Garber, MD

Nicole Garber, MD, is triple board certified in general psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and obesity medicine. in addition, Dr. Garber is a certified Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) therapist and has also completed advanced trainings in psychodynamic therapy, mentalization based therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She is a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association since 2015.

Dr. Garber began her career at the Menninger Clinic, where she developed the adolescent eating disorder track. She is the former chief of the pediatric and adolescent eating disorder program at Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders. Dr. Garber is the former medical director at Arizona Children's Association and currently is a board member. She is currently the Vice President of Psychiatric Services at Meadows Behavioral Health and Chief of Psychiatry at The Meadows Ranch where she provides comprehensive individualized treatment for adolescents and adults with eating disorders, supervises the medical team, writes and implements policies and procedures, and facilitates DBT groups. Dr. Garber speaks nationally on the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders, addictive disorders, and self-harm.

Nicole Garber, MD is not affiliated or associated with Marsha M. Linehan, PhD, ABPP, or her organizations.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Nicole Garber has an employment relationship with Alsana and Eating Recovery Community. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Nicole Garber is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals, the National Eating Disorder Association, and the American Medical Association.

Jenni Schaefer, The Meadows

Jenni Schaefer is the author of several books, including the breakthrough bestseller Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too. An Ambassador with the National Eating Disorders Association and a Meadows Behavioral Healthcare Senior Fellow, she is a sought-after presenter on eating disorders, trauma, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Harper Collins will release Jenni's next book, Facing the Invisible Monster: How I Came Back from Trauma and How You Can Too. For more information visit

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Jenni Schaefer receives royalties as a published author. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Jenni Schaefer is a senior fellow of The Meadows and an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association. She is a member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the Academy for Eating Disorders, and The International Association of eating Disorders Professionals Foundation.


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