Eating Disorders: Symptoms and Treatment

Eating disorders are defined by behaviors of abnormal or unhealthy eating habits linked to mental health concerns. Generally, the condition stems from an obsession with food, body weight or body shape and often results in serious health concerns or consequences. In fact, eating disorders are often linked to severe restrictions of food or binges, which can cause detrimental effects on the body – including death. So common, nearly 13% of young women and men will experience an eating disorder by the age of 20. The two most common and known eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia.

Anorexia Nervosa

People (often young women) view themselves as overweight although they are usually severely undernourished. They monitor their weight by participating in crash diets, counting calories and being incredibly cautious about their food intake. Common symptoms include:

  • Being very underweight
  • Restricted eating habits
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Obsessive pursuit of thinness
  • Distorted perceived body shape and weight
  • Low self-esteem

Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating

Like anorexia, bulimia tends to develop during adolescence and early adulthood. Those who suffer from bulimia tend to eat large quantities of food in a very short period of time. After binge-eating, they reach a sense of being painfully full and then purge or vomit their food. In their minds, they are compensating for the extra calories consumed. Common symptoms include:

  • Frequent episodes of binge-eating
  • Inappropriate purging or vomiting after eating
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Laxative/diet pill use or compulsive exercise as an alternative to purging.

Similarly, binge eating is when one eats until they feel painfully full. It differs from bulimia in that the person does not restrict calories or purges their meals. Common symptoms include:

  • Eating large quantities of food rapidly – and in secret
  • Eating when one does not feel hungry
  • Feeling a lack of self-control during binge-eating episodes
  • Feeling shame, disgust, and guilt in response to behavior
  • No purging, excessive exercise or calorie restrictions

If you or a loved one are struggling from either of these eating disorders or something similar, there is help. Counseling has saved many lives, as it often takes a shift in mindset and finding the root cause for the low self-esteem and distorted views of one’s body shape.

At Advantage Mental Health Center, our counselors offer a number of different therapy options for you and your family – depending on how you would like to embark on this journey of recovery from eating disorders. From individual therapy to group and/or family psychotherapy sessions to treatments specifically focused on nutrition or medical care, there is a program for everyone. The first step is recognizing the signs for yourself or in someone you love and seeking help.

Contact Advantage Mental Health Center to schedule an appointment today.