Getting Help for Eating Disorders

Getting Help for Eating Disorders

Eating disorders affect 30 million people in the U.S. Anorexia, a mental illness that makes a person stop eating, and bulimia, a mental disorder characterized by binge eating and self-induced vomiting, are two types of eating disorders. Both are life-threatening, so treatment is essential.

Eating disorders are severe psychological and biological illnesses. A person with these disorders has an altered perception of their own body. They may feel that they are overweight or unattractive and attempt to diet to lose weight. Dieting may then turn to calorie counting, an aversion to food, and resistance to eating around others. They may become dangerously thin but still perceive that they are overweight.

People with bulimia will also diet but then binge eat. Afterwards, they experience feelings of guilt and induce vomiting. Eating disorders are most common in teenagers.

Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder

Some warning signs that a loved one may have an eating disorder are:

  • A sudden interest in dieting
  • Frequent checking of the body in the mirror
  • Being overly critical of body image—noticing flaws that are not there
  • Being concerned about body weight even if weight is normal
  • Eating only one type of food or a minimal amount of food
  • Wanting to eat in private
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and usual hobbies
  • Mood swings and difficulty in concentrating
  • Iron deficiency, thyroid abnormalities, and fainting
  • Persistently feeling cold
  • Brittle hair, hair loss, and dry skin
  • Tooth discoloration (could be from vomiting)
  • Cessation of menstruation

Treatment for Eating Disorders

Eating disorder treatment in Westport is multi-faceted. After appropriate medical support to stabilize the patient’s physical condition with medications and nutrition, health professionals can provide psychological and cognitive therapy. Through cognitive therapy, patients can develop coping tools for negative feelings about body image and food, recognize harmful thought patterns, and develop new positive ideas. Counseling or “talk therapy” to address self-esteem issues is part of the treatment plan.

If warning signs of an eating disorder show in a family member, you must seek medical treatment immediately. With the right support, the patient can get to the road to recovery easily.

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