Despite having significantly decreased coverage in news media outlets over the past decade, eating disorders remain quite prevalent, particularly among young women and girls. More than simply a wish to be thin, eating disorders embody your struggle with themes of control and psychological, metaphorical hunger. Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice, has several clinicians who specialize in eating disorders in Center City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as surrounding neighborhoods. Eating disorders can be successfully treated, freeing you from anorexia, bulimia and other compulsive binge and eating disorders, resolving your need to control food and hunger. Begin your journey by emailing or calling our Center City office, or scheduling your free initial consultation online.
Eating disorders are characterized by a combination of behaviors including extreme caloric restriction, bingeing, and purging by use of vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise. They are typically associated with a preoccupation with food, diet, and body, and sometimes include body dysmorphia. The most common grouping of symptoms is reflected in these diagnoses:
Anorexia is dominated by excessive caloric restriction and a particularly low body weight. Individuals diagnosed with anorexia are often at increased health risk for heart conditions as well as complications for women whose low body weight may result in loss of menstrual functioning. People with anorexia typically severely limit not only the amount, but often the types of food they’ll eat, and may additionally exercise compulsively, and purge by inducing vomiting or using laxatives.
Bulimia is characterized by a cycle of bingeing, followed by purging. While purging may be done by self-induced vomiting, some sufferers purge using laxatives, diuretics, fasting, and excessive exercise.
Binge eating disorder differs from bulimia in that purging does not consistently follow bingeing. Bingeing is not eating a bag of cookies while watching a Netflix series. While that is a sign of distress and indicates some disordered eating patterns, bingeing is eating a significantly larger amount of food in a significantly quicker period of time. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States.
All eating disorders have the potential to spiral into a life-threatening condition. Very low food consumption and excessive purging cause nutritional deficiencies and amenorrhea (loss of menstrual bleeding). There are minor discomforts and inconveniences like constipation and abdominal pain, but also quite serious concerns like irregular heart rhythms and fluctuations in blood pressure.
Routine purging by vomiting causes damage to teeth and creates risk of significant acid reflux. Excessive purging more concernedly frequently leads to severe dehydration and loss of electrolytes, causing heart arrhythmias and sometimes even heart failure.
While some people require inpatient treatment initially to ensure receiving the food and nutrients needed for normal muscle, nerve, and heart functioning, beyond the initial crisis of restoring physical health, psychotherapy is the primary treatment for eating disorders.
The emotional, psychological, and behavioral concerns underlying an eating disorder are incredibly complex. An inpatient stay can get your physical health back on track, but the only way to overcome an eating disorder and protect your well-being for the long run is with psychotherapy. During psychotherapy, you learn to identify, understand, and change the factors that contributed to your eating disorder.
You don’t need to face an eating disorder alone. Email or call Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice or schedule your free initial appointment online.