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Eating Disorder Counseling and Treatment

Eating Disorder Counseling and Treatment

Eating disorders are psychological disorders that are marked by atypical, abnormal, and disturbed eating habits by a person. They can happen to anyone regardless of their age, sex, or social and cultural background, but is more common among young people than old, and men than women.

The battle against an eating disorder is difficult, but recovery is possible if one receives adequate expert help from a psychotherapist and love, support, and care from their surroundings.

7 Cups offer free online support groups, the ability to chat 1-on-1 with trained active listeners, as well as growth paths with interventions amongst other free features. Individuals can also seek support through therapeutic services at 7 Cups through online therapy.

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What are the Major Causes?

To pin down a single cause for eating disorders is impossible, the exact one being unknown to us yet. But among the many factors that contribute to the development of an eating disorder in a person are genetic makeup, psychological and emotional health, etc.

Genetics and Biology

Some people are genetically more prone to developing eating disorders than others. The way the chemicals in their brain function and change is different from other people and this plays an essential role in the person developing an eating disorder.

Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is a sense of worth and acceptance that a person attaches to themselves. Often, low self-esteem is present in a person who develops an eating disorder. They do not think highly of themselves, especially regarding their physical appearance. They attach their worth to the size of the clothes that fit them, how heavy they are on the weighing scale etc. It leads to them developing feelings of inadequacy and a lack of control over their lives. This can also lead to depression or challenges with body image.

Societal Expectations

The idea that thin is beautiful is prevalent in society. A huge factor in the development of eating disorders in people is the pressure that this idea puts on them. They strive hard to achieve the ideal weight and to fulfill this societal expectation which considers being thin as perfectionism. In order to do this, they adopt abnormal and disturbed eating habits and patterns. This is also why disorder recovery often requires support from families, peers, and friends.

Emotional Health

Poor emotional health of a person may also make them prone to developing an eating disorder. When people are ridiculed because of their weight, or have a history of physical/sexual abuse, and it leads to the decline of their emotional health, troubling them significantly, it can be a huge factor contributing to a person developing maladaptive eating patterns.

Anorexia Explained

Anorexia Nervosa, more commonly known as anorexia, is one of the most common eating disorders. Its symptoms include an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and distorted perceptions about their appearance and body. In an attempt to get to and maintain their ideal weight, they usually restrict their diet to harmful extents, exercise excessively, etc. Anorexia is not about food, it’s about an unhealthy way of coping with emotional problems. Anorexics often associate thinness with their self-worth.

When this disorder takes on a severe form, it affects every aspect of a person’s life, and may even be fatal.

Bulimia, Binge Eating, and Purging Explained

Bulimia Nervosa or Bulimia is another common eating disorder that tends to develop in people. It is also called binge-purge disorder or binge eating disorder. People with bulimia may binge on large quantities of food, only to purge the extra calories out later by using laxatives, over-exercising, among many other ways. They misuse weight-loss supplements, diuretics, etc. to achieve the ideal weight goal that they have set for themselves. Bulimia too is not just about food and is more related to a person’s self-image and esteem.

It can be hard to overcome, but with proper help, recovery is possible.

Body Dysmorphia Explained

Body dysmorphia is the condition in which a person can not stop thinking about the supposed flaws of their body. It might be something very minor that cannot even be perceived by others, but the person suffering from body dysmorphia may feel so embarrassed and anxious about it that they may start avoiding social situations because of it and having intense negative feelings about their body.

Such people may even seek surgical cosmetic procedures to fix the perceived flaws.

Healing From the Wounds

Eating disorders are very hard to go through and are often life-altering. Recovery starts when the person admits that they have a problem, to begin with, and begins to unlearn the learned beliefs that reaching a certain weight goal, having a certain body shape is the key to their happiness. Reaching out for support and talking about their condition are also measures that help. Seeking professional support from a therapist and doctor, making long-term treatment plans, and learning self-help strategies are also instrumental in helping a person recover.

What are the Physical Symptoms?

Some physical symptoms of eating disorders include- noticeable weight loss or gain in a person, dizziness, fainting, muscle weakness, poor wound healing, impaired immune functioning among many others. It is important to be mindful of such symptoms in oneself and the people around us in order to provide them with timely help and intervention.

Dealing with Relapse and Working Towards Recovery Through Psychotherapy

Recovery is hardly ever a linear process. If one relapses and falls back into the cycles that an eating disorder puts one into, it is far from unnatural. It does not mean that treatment will never work for the person, or that they can never recover from it.

Psychotherapy is a good option for recovering from eating disorders. There are many therapy alternatives to choose from like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, dialectical behavior therapy amongst others.

An eating disorder therapist can help you address your mental health concerns including any maladaptive food-related behavioral patterns. They also provide information through nutritional counseling are ready to support you with any questions. Sometimes, family therapy can be part of the treatment options. At the end of the day, every mental health professional will personalize your treatment plan and help you get to your desired outcomes.

7 Cups offers affordable online therapy services for eating disorders. Once subscribed, you can message your therapist at any time during the work week without any scheduled appointments.

Eating disorders are a lot to deal with, but care from loved ones and professional support from a counselor, therapist, or doctor can help a victim by leaps and bounds. Recovery is possible and survivors exist. There is hope for everyone.

Featured Contributors

Lisa Meighan, MBPsS

Lisa is a licensed mental health counselor with an eclectic style of therapy to fit every client

Kathy Wenzel

Kathy is the editor of a leading regional publication in Michigan with personal experience with and a passion for mental health issues.