Eating Disorder Therapy
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Eating disorders are mental illnesses defined by unhealthy, compulsive, or disordered eating habits. Anorexia nervosa (voluntary starvation), bulimia nervosa (binge-eating followed by purging), binge-eating disorder (binge-eating without purging), and other or undefined eating disorders are examples of eating disorders (disordered eating patterns that do not fit into another category).
Eating disorders are more common in affluent cultures than in less affluent cultures, but they are not limited to the wealthy. Although young women in their teens and twenties make up a disproportionate percentage of people diagnosed, anyone, including young males and older adults of any gender, might acquire an eating disorder. Eating disorders can become all-consuming, requiring those suffering from them to focus solely on eating (or not eating) to the detriment of much else in their lives.
Some of the factors connected with eating disorders include biological factors, societal and interpersonal influences, and family history. Body-image concerns influenced by culture, as well as personality qualities such as perfectionism and obsessiveness, play a significant part in the disorders, which are frequently accompanied by despair or anxiety.
Treatment is rarely straightforward. Eating disorders can cause additional medical problems and might even be life-threatening, necessitating hospitalization and forced feeding. To achieve full rehabilitation, multidisciplinary teams of health professionals—including psychotherapists, medical specialists, and expert dietitians or nutritionists—are frequently required.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by regular cycles of eating large amounts of food followed by purging. Purging is typically accomplished through self-induced vomiting, although it may also involve the use of laxatives, diuretics, or non-purging compensatory actions such as fasting or overexercising.
The disorder usually manifests itself during adolescence, however, it might appear earlier or later. It can be difficult to recognize, regardless of age, because persons suffering from bulimia are frequently discreet about their eating and purging behaviors. Although many persons with bulimia are overweight, they all have a strong fear of gaining weight and frequently suffer from anxiety, sadness, and low self-esteem.
Bulimia symptoms include strange eating habits, persistent weight fluctuation, frequent bathroom use, and avoidance of social gatherings. Cognitive-behavioral or other forms of psychotherapy, antidepressant medication, and nutrition counseling are common treatments.
Eating disorders are characterized by disturbances in how people eat and view their bodies and weight. However, these disturbances might emerge in a variety of ways. They can be visible in some circumstances, such as significant weight loss or refusal to eat. In other circumstances, they can be subtle, such as creating rigorous meal routines—only eating specific foods or at specific times—or becoming overly active. In other cases, symptoms of the disorder can be concealed, such as going to the lavatory after meals in the case of bulimia or eating in private in the case of binge-eating disorder.
Mental health symptoms can arise as a result of the disorder or be exacerbated by it. People suffering from eating disorders may become more withdrawn, avoiding people or activities they once enjoyed, or they may experience mood swings and anxiety. Although it can be difficult to discuss, recognizing an eating disorder early on can assist the person in seeking the treatment they require to recover.
It might take a long time for someone suffering from an eating disorder to seek help, often years or decades. When they do, there are a variety of treatment choices available to assist them in recovering.
People with eating disorders are often treated outpatient, although severe instances may necessitate hospitalization or treatment at an inpatient institution. To address the various aspects of the condition, treatment includes a physician, a psychologist, and a nutritionist. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, including a variant specialized to eating disorders called enhanced cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as family-based treatment, are all treatments for eating disorders of any kind.
Recovering from an eating disorder can be a winding and time-consuming process. People who are in recovery must continue to watch and adjust in order to avoid setbacks and relapses. Treatment can teach you the skills you need to do so.
Recovery indicates that a person no longer satisfies the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder and that they have healed both physically and emotionally. Everyone will have a unique experience as they establish a customized approach to treatment, eating habits, social support, and coping skills.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by a preoccupation with weight loss or activity. It is more common in young to middle-aged women and is becoming more common in young men, but it can afflict anyone at any age.
It is the most lethal psychiatric disorder, characterized by a distorted sense of body image and excessive deliberate starving or overexercising, and is closely connected with perfectionism and sadness. Extreme dieting, obsessive eating routines, and secretive and antisocial behavior are the most prevalent behavioral symptoms of anorexia.
Anorexia is extremely difficult to cure and is frequently accompanied by worry and sadness. Treatment may include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, nutrition education and management, and family-based therapies, all of which can be provided at specialized eating-disorder clinics.
If the situation becomes life-threatening, the only option may be hospitalization with forced feeding, which may present ethical and legal quandaries for all caretakers.
Binge-eating disorder is characterized by recurrent periods of intense overeating that are not followed by compensatory behavior; as a result, persons suffering from the disorder are frequently overweight or obese.
People with this disorder consume much faster than normal and don’t stop until they are uncomfortably full. They may eat a lot of food even when they aren’t hungry. They frequently eat alone due to shame or embarrassment over their eating behaviors.
Many people have intermittent bouts of overeating and may even “binge” on occasion. To be classified as a disorder, these behaviors must occur at least twice a week for at least six months.
Though anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder are the most well-known, eating disorders also include a variety of additional illnesses. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, rumination disorder, pica, and others are examples.
Food avoidance or restriction is a feature of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. People suffering from the disease may be uninterested in food, maybe to avoid a terrible experience in the past, or because they are bothered by specific sensory features of food, such as its scent or texture.
Rumination disorder is defined by frequent regurgitation of food after eating, which involves putting previously swallowed food back into the mouth without expressing nausea, involuntary retching, or disgust. The meal is then frequently re-chewed, spit out, or swallowed.
Pica is a condition characterized by the habitual eating of one or more nonnutritive, nonfood things such as paper, soap, or hair. Those suffering with the disorder do not often have a general dislike to food.
In the DSM-5, various eating disorders, such as night eating syndrome or atypical anorexia, may be classed as “other specified feeding and eating disorders.”
Any eating disorder does not have a single etiology. It’s still unclear why some people’s allegedly choice eating behaviors become disorders while others don’t.
Eating disorders are distinguished by a disordered relationship with food and a sense of emotional vulnerability. Eating disorders generally begin unnoticed––a person eats slightly more or less food than usual. The need to eat more or less becomes increasingly powerful, to the point where it might become the center of a person’s existence.
Biology also has an impact. Appetite control and food intake management are extremely complex, with several chemicals in the brain and body indicating hunger and satiety. Eating disorders may also have hereditary underpinnings, according to evidence.
Culture is assumed to play a role as well since people—particularly women—are driven to conform to an ideal of beauty that is largely defined by weight. Families also play a role; parents who highlight disorder, encourage dieting or criticize their children’s bodies are more likely to produce an eating-disordered child.
Other factors come into play as well; the symptoms might be induced by stress, social difficulties, loneliness, depression, trauma, or dieting itself.
Seeing a child suffer from an eating disorder can be quite upsetting. Parents should not blame themselves for their child’s disorder, but they can take efforts to provide support and assist their child in healing.
Various actions are required at various stages of the process. Recognizing the symptoms of a disorder, learning about the sickness, discussing it with the child, and supporting them to seek treatment are all examples of these stages.
What is the next step?
If you or someone you love is considering individual therapy or counseling, please contact Through The Forest Counseling. We are a team of professionals who have the expertise to help.
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