Eating Disorder Therapy: What are Bulimia, Anorexia, & Eating Disorders?

What is an Eating Disorder?

What is an Eating Disorder?

Ranging from starvation diets to gluttony, eating disorders refer to eating patterns that are somehow destructive in nature. There are many different forms of eating disorders including the famous anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, and EDNOS. Eating disorders are very serious conditions. In the early stages before they appear to be making much of a difference, the coping mechanisms and response patterns deepen and engrain themselves. Once an individual suffering from an eating disorder starts manifesting the deeper symptoms, those behaviors are typically engrained.

Symptoms of eating disorders unfortunately vary significantly with the individual and with the form of eating disorder at work. Negative and distorted self images are common as are preoccupations with food, social withdrawal, low self esteem, depression, and the like. Weight alone cannot be used to gauge whether an eating disorder is present. Common wisdom said that individuals with anorexia were always thin, but research and statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health reveal that an eating disorder relates to the pattern of behavior not the results.

Methods Typically Used in Therapy for Eating Disorders

A wide number of treatments can be used to treat eating disorders. The traditional form of treatment involves talk therapy where the patient talks with a therapist to better reveal the reasons underlying the eating disorder. However, in some situations, the severity of the eating disorder may have escalated to the point where the patient’s life is in danger. In these cases, the method is a strong intervention that may include forced intravenous feeding and suicide watches.

The severity of the patient’s condition and the patient’s desire to deal with the issue are the primary factors in determining the method. Often times, the therapist will use some form of accountability whether in single or group sessions to ensure that healthy habits are being implemented. In situations where health changes needed to be incorporated, the therapist will also help to develop a plan for the patient to use.

Reasons for Hiring a Therapist

Eating disorders are not just a matter of self control or dieting. They have far deeper roots than that, and there are few individuals who can truly handle all of the issues that arise from an eating disorder alone. Additionally, eating disorders frequently coexist with other disorders and mental illnesses like anxiety disorder, depression, or substance abuse. One of the problems with eating disorders is that they seem deceptively easy to handle until they have taken over a person’s life completely.

Often times, your therapist will also work in concert with a doctor. Eating disorders have a profound physical effect on the body ranging from irregular heartbeats to fatigue to menstrual trouble. In some cases, malnourishment may also be an issue and have to be addressed.

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What to Look for in a Therapist

While some therapists specialize in handling eating disorders, many times the therapist or psychologist you hire will be one who handles behavioral psychology or cognitive behavioral therapy with a specialization in eating disorders. The primary treatment forms require replacing negative behaviors with positive ones as well as understanding the roots.

It’s not uncommon for a therapist who handles eating disorders to push clients. You should expect this. The pushing will be to challenge you to address the underlying issues of your eating disorder and to deal with it rather than let the negative behaviors continue. You should still feel generally comfortable and a certain level of trust with the therapist, but do not be surprised if some of the sessions make you feel out of control or uncomfortable about your ability to succeed. Search TherapyTribe, therapist directory for a therapist that specializes in eating disorders.