Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause serious emotional and physical symptoms. Despite some common misconceptions, eating disorders are about more than “just food.” These complex mental health conditions can take over one’s life and cause harmful health complications. Luckily, there is treatment available and has been proven beneficial for many. 

At NW Mind-Body Wellness, members of our team have specialized training in the treatment of eating disorders. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or fear you might be, we encourage you to fill out one of our contact forms to set up an appointment.

Anorexia Nervosa

Individuals with anorexia avoid, severely restrict, or only eat small amounts of food. Those with anorexia are often underweight, but may still seem themselves as overweight. Due to the low nutrition intake, anorexia may cause very dangerous health complications if left untreated.

Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:

  • Highly restricted eating
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Relentless pursuit to lose weight
  • Distorted body image

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa causes individuals to engage in a recurrent cycle of binge eating and then purging to compensate for the excess calories. This disorder can begin to control many aspects of one’s life, as well as cause serious health effects.

Symptoms bulimia nervosa include:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • Feeling a lack of control
  • Preoccupation with one’s own body shape and weight
  • Using laxatives after eating when they’re not needed
  • Forced vomiting in fear of gaining weight
  • Excessive exercise to prevent weight gain

Binge eating disorder

Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the United States (NEDA). Individuals with this condition experience a loss of control over their eating and have recurrent episodes of eating large amounts. Unlike with bulimia nervosa, those with BED do not purge, excessively exercise, or try to compensate in other ways for the calories consumed. As a result of the condition, many individuals with binge-eating disorder are overweight.

Symptoms binge eating disorder include:

  • Eating large amounts of food within a specific time period (i.e. 1 hour)
  • Feeling a lack of control during binge episodes
  • Eating when full
  • Feeling ashamed, guilty, or distressed about eating
  • Eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment or judgement

Treatment

Treatment for eating disorders has been proven to be effective for many. There are various ways to treat eating disorders, but treatment plans commonly include a combination of:

  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy)
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Medication

Finding TREATMENT AND RESOURCES

Overview of Eating Disorders

Overview of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a group of conditions that cause serious emotional and physical symptoms. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Without proper treatment, an eating disorder can take over much of one’s life and cause significant health complications. 

Anorexia Nervosa

People with anorexia avoid food, severely restrict, or only eat small amounts of food. Even if dangerously underweight, individuals with anorexia may still see themselves as overweight. Anorexia can take a heavy toll on one’s physical health due to low food intake and inadequate nutrition.

Anorexia symptoms include:

  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted body image
  • Extremely restricted eating
  • Relentless pursuit to loose weight 

Bulimia nervosa

Individuals with bulimia nervosa experience recurrent episodes of feeling out of control and in which they eat large amounts of food, then try to rid themselves of the extra calories. This cycle can control many aspects of one’s life and have devastating health effects. 

Bulimia symptoms include:

  • Preoccupied with one’s own body shape and weight
  • Using laxatives after eating when they’re not needed
  • Feeling a loss of control
  • Forced vomiting or exercise in fear of gaining weight

Binge-eating disorder

Binge-eating disorder is a condition where individuals experience a loss of control over their eating and have reoccurring episodes eating large amounts. Unlike those with bulimia nervosa, those with binge-eating disorder do not purge, excessively exercise, or fast after eating episodes. As result of the condition, many individuals with binge-eating disorder are overweight.

Binge-eating disorder symptoms include:

  • Eating fast during binge episodes
  • Eating large amounts of food within a specific amount of time
  • Eating when full
  • Eating alone or in secret to avoid judgement or embarrassment
  • Feeling ashamed or guilty

Treatment

Treatment is available for those struggling with for eating disorders and has been proven to be effective. 

Treatment plans commonly include:

  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy)
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Medication

People with eating disorders are at an increased risk of suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL)  at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Finding TREATMENT AND RESOURCES

Overview of Bulimia Nervosa

Overview of Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which individuals have recurrent episodes of feeling out of control and eating large amounts of food, after which they take desperate measures to try and rid themselves of the extra calories. This repeating cycle can be devastating to one’s mental and physical health. Understanding the symptoms and warning signs of bulimia is important, as identifying them can help individuals receive proper treatment as soon as possible.

SYMPTOMS

The behavioral symptoms of bulimia nervosa may vary depending on the person. Common behavioral symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior to try and rid body of excess calories by self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, fasting, or excessive exercise
  • Feeling out of control
  • Hoarding food
  • Depression or mood swings

The physical symptoms and complications of bulimia nervosa may vary depending on the person. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Erosion of tooth enamel
  • Gum infections
  • Sore or inflamed throat
  • Dehydration
  • Gastroparesis
  • Lowered sex drive
  • Irregular heartbeat

Treatment and Therapies

Treatment and therapies may vary but treatment plans commonly include:

  • Psychotherapy
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used as it helps teach individuals how to create normal eating habits and be aware of triggers that might cause one to binge or purge. Focus is placed on replacing negative thoughts with more positive ways of thinking.
  • Nutritional Therapy
    • Nutritional therapy can be beneficial to some as they work with a dietician to recognize the needs of their body
  • Medication
    • For some people, medication such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed to treat bulimia. Currently, there are no medications directly for treating eating disorders, but eating disorders are often co-occurring with other illnesses such as depression or anxiety, and medicine can help treat these underlying issues.

Finding TREATMENT AND RESOURCES

 

  • To contact the NEDA Hotline, call or text (800) 931-2237
  • If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call the toll-free  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL)  at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

 

Anorexia nervosa

Overview of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which individuals may see themselves as overweight, and take drastic measures to lose weight or prevent weight gain. The symptoms of anorexia can be devastating to one’s health, both mentally and physically. According to the NIMH, anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. Understanding the warning signs and symptoms of anorexia is vital, as treatment is available to those who need it and has been proven to help many.

SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of anorexia nervosa may vary depending on the person. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Extremely restricted eating
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Relentless pursuit of losing weight and thinness
  • Distorted body image, with self esteem often heavily influenced by perceptions of body weight

Over time other symptoms may develop, these include:

  • Mild anemia
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Low blood pressure
  • Thinning of the bones
  • Lethargy, or feeling tired all the time
  • Infertility
  • Damage to the structure of the heart
  • Brain damage

Treatment and Therapies

Treatment and therapies may vary but treatment plans commonly include:

  • Psychotherapy
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used as it helps teach individuals how to identify distorted thoughts of one’s body image and unhelpful thinking patterns. It also focuses on replacing these harmful thoughts with more positive ways of thinking.
  • Medication
    • In some cases, medication such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs may be used. Although there are no medications directly for treating eating disorders at this time, anorexia is often co-occurring with other illnesses such as depression or anxiety, and medicine can help treat these underlying issues.

Finding TREATMENT AND RESOURCES

Binge Eating Disorder: Signs and Symptoms

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating accompanied by feelings of distress and a lack of control. For individuals with BED, unlike bulimia nervosa, the binge-eating is not followed with purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. As result of the episodes, people with binge eating disorder are often overweight or obese. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is the most common eating disorder in the United States. Complete recovery is possible for those with BED.

SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of binge eating disorder may vary depending on the person. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as a 2-hour period
  • Eating when already full
  • Eating fast during binge episodes
  • Eating until the point of discomfort
  • Eating in private to avoid embarrassment
  • Feelings of distress or guilt about eating
  •  Frequently diet, often without the result of weight loss

Treatment and Therapies

Treatment and therapies may vary but treatment plans commonly include:

  • Individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy
  • Medical care and monitoring
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Medications

Finding TREATMENT AND RESOURCES

  • To learn more about binge eating disorder, or to find out if it may affect you, we recommend contacting your health care provider.
  • To read more about BED and other eating disorders, the following resources are suggested:
    • NAMI: https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Eating-Disorders
    • NIMH: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders
    • NIMH “About More Than Food”: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders

 

 

COMMON TYPES OF EATING DISORDERS

Eating disorders can affect people of all ages, weights, and backgrounds. Although there are more, listed below are three of the most common types of eating disorders and symptoms. It can also be noted that a large portion of individuals with eating disorders don’t meet the full criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge-eating disorder, but instead may be diagnosed with Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED)

ANOREXIA NERVOSA

People with anorexia nervosa avoid food, severely restrict food, or eat very small quantities of only certain foods.

  • Extremely restricted eating
  • Excessive exercise
  • Relentless pursuit of thinness
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted body image

BULIMIA NERVOSA

Binge-eating followed by behaviors that compensate for the overeating, such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors.

  • Chronically inflamed or sore throat
  • Acid reflux disorder or other gastrointestinal problems
  • Severe dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance

Binge-eating disorder

People with binge-eating disorder lose control over their eating. Unlike bulimia nervosa, periods of binge-eating are not followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting.

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time
  • Eating even when full or not hungry
  • Eating fast during binge episodes
  • Feeling distressed, ashamed, or guilty about eating

TREATMENT AND RESOURCES

  • To learn more about eating disorders, or find out if you may be affected by a disorder, we recommend contacting your health care provider.
  • To read more about eating disorders, the following resources are suggested:
    • https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/
    • https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/