It can be difficult to tell if someone has an eating disorder. Not all signs of eating disorders are apparent, and some individuals suffering from eating disorders may try to hide their condition.
If left untreated, eating disorders can lead to serious health problems ranging from digestive issues to heart failure.
However, there are some signs that may indicate that someone is struggling with an eating disorder. In this article, we discuss what eating disorders are, the signs of an eating disorder, and where you can go in Atlanta and Alpharetta to receive discrete, high-quality care and counseling for an eating disorder.
Eating Disorders Overview
An eating disorder is a mental illness characterized by abnormal eating habits that may lead to weight loss or gain. Eating disorders are caused by a combination of factors, such as genetics, social pressure, home life, and more. However, the common link is that people suffering from eating disorders use food as an unhealthy to deal with social and emotional problems. For instance, they might use food as a way to avoid painful emotions, or strictly control one’s diet to feel a sense of control in their lives. Therefore, addressing these social and emotional problems often treats the eating disorder.
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can have dangerous consequences for physical and emotional health if left untreated. People who suffer from eating disorders are at a higher risk for developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. They may also experience problems with their digestive system, such as constipation and diarrhea, and they are more likely to develop reproductive problems. In addition, people with eating disorders are also at risk for developing psychiatric problems, such as depression and anxiety.
Types of Eating Disorders
The term “eating disorder” is an umbrella term for the three main types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.
Anorexia nervosa is a condition characterized by an intense restriction on consuming calories and a distorted view of one’s own body image. Individuals with anorexia nervosa often starve themselves or exercise excessively in order to lose weight and may see themselves as overweight, even if they are underweight.
Bulimia nervosa is a condition characterized by binging on food (eating large amounts of food in a short period of time) and then purging (vomiting or using laxatives to get rid of the food). Individuals with bulimia may also look as if they follow a strict diet or exercise frequently, but the key difference is that they also engage in purging.
Binge eating disorder is a condition characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating without the use of purging methods. Individuals with binge eating disorder often struggle with feeling overfull after binging and may feel depressed, anxious, or guilty about binging.
What Are the Signs of an Eating Disorder?
There are many signs and symptoms that may indicate someone is struggling with an eating disorder. The most common signs include:
- drastic weight loss or gain
- mood swings
- hair loss
People struggling with eating disorders may also engage in new behaviors, such as:
- obsessively counting calories
- excessive exercise
- hiding food
- taking frequent bathroom breaks throughout a meal (in order to purge)
- often not wanting to eat with other people
It’s important to note that not all people who have eating disorders exhibit all of these signs. It is critical to seek professional help if you suspect that you or someone you know may have an eating disorder.
What Treatments Are Available for Eating Disorders?
Treatment for an eating disorder will vary depending on the type of disorder and the severity of the condition. However, most treatment plans involve some combination of therapy, medication, and nutritional counseling.
Therapy is often an important part of treatment for eating disorders. Therapists can help people with eating disorders address the emotional factors that contribute to their disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and family therapy have both been shown to help individuals recover from eating disorders. In addition, counselors can provide support and guidance throughout the treatment process.
Medication may also be prescribed to people with eating disorders in order to help them manage their condition. Eating disorders can occur alongside other mental illnesses, like anxiety and depression, and disordered eating may even be the way the individual is trying to cope with these mental illnesses. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help individuals struggling with eating disorders feel more stabilized and able to participate in therapy, which helps with the treatment process.
Nutrition counseling can also benefit individuals with eating disorders. By working with a registered dietitian who specializes in treating people with eating disorders, they can recommend healthy meal plans and help individuals avoid certain foods that might trigger their disorder.
Therapy for an Eating Disorder at Atlanta Specialized Care
If you are looking for experienced, caring counselors who can effectively treat eating disorders, look no further than Atlanta Specialized Care. Our team, consisting of licensed professional counselors, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and licensed clinical social workers, offers individualized treatment plans that address the unique needs of each patient. To learn more about our services or to schedule a consultation, please call us today at (770) 815-6853, or use our appointment request form. We look forward to serving you!