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Eating Disorders

Defining eating disorders

Eating disorders are mental health conditions relating to unhealthy attitudes and behaviors around food. While often associated with younger women, men and women of any age can be affected. Throughout modern history, new research has been done over the past couple decades to shed more light on the reasoning, behavior, symptoms, and resolutions for individuals who have disordered eating behaviors.

The three most commonly referenced types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa, often just called anorexia, is marked by unrealistic body-image perceptions and voluntary fasting. Someone with anorexia may see themselves as physically larger than they are, and a compulsion to lose weight even if they are already at an unhealthily low weight.

Bulimia nervosa is often called bulimia, and it involves the consistent binging and purging of food. Typical behavior associated with this disorder is normal eating habits in public, or in some cases overeating (binging) followed by self-inflicted purging via vomiting or taking laxatives to prevent the full consumption of the calories eaten.

Finally, binge-eating disorders involve overconsumption of food but without any purging. This may be the least discussed of the three but is equally as damaging–both physically and mentally–for the person experiencing the disordered eating patterns and habits.

How treatment can help disordered eating

While the physical consequences of living with an eating disorder are well-known, the cause of the disorders has not been discussed as openly. Body image problems are often a catalyst for seeing oneself as overweight when in reality that is not the case.

Becoming comfortable and raising self-image through therapy can help patients recover over time. Cognitive behavioral therapy with a psychologist can also help the patient reset their eating habits and relationship with food so they avoid triggers that may lead them to back to disordered eating patterns.

In some situations–always depending on the person, the problem, the history, and more–there may be medications that could be helpful tools for processing and recovering from eating disorders. As the patient gets treatment for their eating disorder, there may be relapses to old behavior, but with the support of a team of experts, recovery habits can be built to get them back on the path towards a healthy relationship with food.

Psychologists and psychiatrists for treating eating disorders

Because of the risk to the overall physical and mental health involved in treating an eating disorder, medical knowledge can be an important tool in treatment. Psychiatrists attend medical school and are therefore doctors apart from their specializations in psychiatry. This gives them a big picture view of how the health of an undernourished anorexic patient or an overweight binge-eating patient may be relating to the disorder and ways to begin treatment to recover from disordered eating.

Psychologists also have a lot to offer in the treatment of those with eating disorders. The psychologist can engage the patient in talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and other treatment interventions not requiring medication to begin repairing any unhealthy connections, habits, thoughts, or misconceptions the patient may harbor.

If you or a loved one in Raleigh, Fuquay-Varina or Fayetteville are living with an eating disorder, and you are considering treatment, consider working with psychological and psychiatrist expertise within one organization. Fayetteville Psych from psychologists or psychiatrist may help. Call Fayetteville Psychiatric Partners at 910-323-1543 to set an appointment today.

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