“If I can just lose 5 more pounds, then I would feel better about myself. If I can look like the person in the magazine, then I’ll be truly happy. I feel so guilty about eating too many slices of pizza. I must get them out of my stomach, and then it will be like it never happened.”
Eating disorders may appear to people who have never experienced one to be only about physical vanity. However, we know they are complex psychological responses to low self-esteem, stress, and emotional situations. We know it’s not really about vanity.
Eating disorders are often accompanied by other psychiatric disorders. Eating disorders are mental illnesses characterized by extreme or obsessive behaviors and attitudes towards food, as well as an extreme desire for control. The causes of eating disorders are complex as they can be brought on through genetic, biological, socio-behavioral and psychological factors. These illnesses can also push patients towards depression, substance abuse with alcohol or drugs and can bring on anxiety disorders.
People with anorexia are 18 times more likely to die early than people in the general population. Eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness.
If you, or someone you love, is suffering through and eating disorder, you need to get help from trained physicians.
Medical Treatment and Therapy
At Holiner Psychiatric Group, addressing eating disorder treatment we know that simply changing a person’s diet will not cure their eating disorder, though teaching about adequate nutrition can help alleviate some symptoms. Treating the individual’s psychological issues related to the disorder is imperative to long-lasting recovery. Close medical supervision, supportive psychotherapy, and behavior modification are among the treatments used by our doctors, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners to treat eating disorders. By talking about behaviors and thoughts that have led to the disorder, patients can address their feelings of shame and guilt and learn how to reduce or even eliminate debilitating behaviors and actions.
Though each eating disorder stems from a similar cause, each one presents itself differently in the lives of those affected. Despite the common misconception that eating disorders are only found in women, young boys and men are just as susceptible to these disorders as women are. Because of the nature of eating disorders, people who battle the illness associate their self-worth with their body, and when they cannot live up to their own expectations, they become filled with shame and guilt. These extreme feelings may prevent them from coming forward about their condition and seeking professional help.
You Are Not Alone
Both men and women are known to battle body dissatisfaction and attempt to control their feelings of shame through eating disorders. More than 10 million men and 20 million women have dealt with an eating disorder in their lifetime. It has become very common for young children, especially girls at a rate of 40-60%, to become overly concerned with their weight.
Types of Eating Disorders
The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.
Anorexia involves extremely restricted dieting in the pursuit of ultimate thinness. Anorexics see themselves as fat, even when the mirror and the rest of the world tell them otherwise. Physical effects and anorexia symptoms include: emaciation, loss of bone and muscle mass, lack of energy, brain damage, an obsession with thinness, and an extreme restriction of eating or only consuming very small meals.
Bulimic behavior is marked by episodes of binge eating followed by purging. These episodes may happen up to several times daily. Feelings of guilt about overeating, and a desire to regain control, weigh heavily on the mind causing the need to overcompensate to feel thin again. Physical effects of bulimia are severe dehydration, tooth enamel breakdown from stomach acid, intestinal distress, and finally, through longtime exposure to purging, electrolyte imbalance that can lead to a heart attack.
People with binge eating disorders have similar episodes of uncontrolled feeding sprees, but without the purge afterward. Binge eaters use food as a tool to try to fill an emotional void.