Eating disorders are a type of mental illness that usually involve preoccupation with body image, weight and food. Eating disorders often overtake a person’s mind, life, family, school, work, and happiness. There are several different types of eating disorders that as a whole affect at least 30 million Americans of varying genders, ages, and races. Eating disorders have a high mortality rate, approximately 8,500 Americans will die from an eating disorder each year. These deaths are attributed to both complications of the illness and suicide.
Types of eating disorders include:
- Anorexia nervosa involves a person restricting their food intake to a point the body is deficient in nutrition. They often find their self-esteem only in their body image. Their intense fear of gaining weight manifests itself in behaviors targeted to prevent gaining weight.
- Bulimia nervosa involves a person who also defines themselves by their body image. However, these persons often consume large amounts of food followed by an episode of purging their food. They often feel out of control during these episodes and feel guilty following these behaviors.
- Binge eating disorder involves a person consuming large amounts of food without participating in behaviors to prevent weight gain. These persons often experience feelings of being out of control followed by shame and guilt.
- Other specified eating disorders can involve a combination of symptoms that may not meet criteria for a formal diagnosis of the other types of eating disorders.
Though these behaviors all vary in presentation they all can carry serious health complications. Because of the complexity of these disorders, a tri-fold treatment approach from various disciplines is recommended.
- Primary care physicians can monitor physical health that may have deteriorated due to the disorder.
- Registered dietitians can provide guidance in restoring healthy eating behaviors.
- Professional counselors can provide support in helping challenge the thoughts that lead to developing negative self-esteem leading to eating disorders.
Cy-Hope Counseling has counselors prepared to help you navigate through the difficulties surrounding eating disorders. A common approach used to treat these disorders includes cognitive behavioral therapy. In this therapy model, a therapist will help you challenge the negative beliefs about yourself, help you build healthy beliefs about yourself and your body, and empower you to move past your disorder into a healthier lifestyle. Therapy may also consist of relapse prevention techniques to establish a firm foundation when life presents challenges in the future.
Written by: Kristina Zufall, M.Ed., LPC-Intern