If You Think You Have An Eating Disorder
Many people have problems with their eating. If you do have an eating disorder, it is important to seek help. Remember that with support from health professionals, eating disorders can be recovered from. Getting professional help and support from others is important. Recovery may be slow as you learn to approach food in a more positive way and understand the reasons for your behaviour, but the effort will be worthwhile.
Treatments For Eating Disorders
Starting treatment as early as possible is important because there can be long-term health consequences for people with chronic eating disorders.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to treating eating disorders since everyone is different. Often a team of health professionals is involved in an individual’s treatment, including a psychologist, dietitian and doctor.
Some of the treatment options include:
Can Anorexia Nervosa Be Prevented
Although it might not be possible to prevent all cases of anorexia nervosa, it is helpful to begin treatment in people as soon as they begin to have symptoms. In addition, teaching and encouraging healthy eating habits and realistic attitudes about food and body image also might be helpful in preventing the development or worsening of eating disorders. If your child or family member decides to become vegetarian or vegan, for instance, it is worth seeing a dietitian versed in eating disorders and touching base with your pediatrician or physician to make sure that this change occurs without a loss in nutrients.
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Risk Factors For Specific Eating Disorders
Risk factor research focuses on identifying traits or experiences that precede the development of a specific disorder . For a risk factor to be shown as a causal factor, the risk factor must be shown to come before the development of the eating disorder. It also must be capable of being manipulated to prevent the occurrence of the disorder. For example, smoking is a causal risk factor for lung cancer it comes before the development of the disease, and not smoking reduces ones risk of developing lung cancer.
Because eating disorders are relatively rare and diverse disorders, it is difficult and expensive to perform the kinds of large and long-term studies needed to better assess risk factors.
To date, there is limited risk factor research that has successfully demonstrated causality, but a 2015 research study found these causal risk factors for eating disorders.
Who Gets Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa can occur in people of any age, sex, race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, as well as individuals of all body weights, shapes and sizes. Anorexia nervosa is most commonly seen in adolescents and young adult females, although it also occurs in males and is increasing in numbers in children and older adults.
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Mental Health Treatment Locator
For more information, resources, and research on mental illnesses, visit the NIMH website at . The National Library of Medicines MedlinePlus website also has information on a wide variety of mental disorders.
For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline at 1800662HELP . SAMHSA also has a Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on its website that can be searched by location.
Stress And Negative Mood
How we feel can put us at risk for an ED.
Teenage years can be stressful and emotional. How a person can handle these tough years can influence whether or not an ED will develop.
Teens who find themselves not equipped to deal well emotionally to negative situations, events, or circumstances are more likely to turn to food for comfort in these situations. Over time, this can develop into a habit, which can then lead to a clinically significant ED Stice, E. . Risk and maintenance factors for eating pathology: a meta-analytic review. Psychological bulletin, 128, 82.
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How Is Eating Disorders Diagnosed
Because eating disorders can be so serious, it is important to seek help if you or a loved one thinks that you might have a problem. Your health care provider may use many tools to make a diagnosis:
- A medical history, which includes asking about your symptoms. It is important to be honest about your eating and exercise behaviors so your provider can help you.
- A physical exam
- Blood or urine tests to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms
- Other tests to see whether you have any other health problems caused by the eating disorder. These can include kidney function tests and an electrocardiogram .
How Do Eating Disorders Affect Health And Emotions
Eating disorders can cause serious problems throughout the body.
Anorexia can lead to health problems caused by undernutrition and low body weight, such as:
- low blood pressure
- feeling tired, weak, dizzy, or faint
- constipation and bloating
- autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit disorder
- problems at home and school because of eating behavior
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Getting Help For Anorexia
Getting help and support as soon as possible gives you the best chance of recovering from anorexia.
If you think you may have anorexia, even if you’re not sure, see a GP as soon as you can.
They will ask you questions about your eating habits and how you’re feeling, and will check your overall health and weight.
They may also refer you for some blood tests to make sure your weight loss is not caused by something else.
If they think you may have anorexia, or another eating disorder, they should refer you to an eating disorder specialist or team of specialists.
It can be very hard to admit you have a problem and to ask for help. It may make things easier if you bring a friend or loved one with you to your appointment.
You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from eating disorders charity Beat by calling its adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.
How Are Eating Disorders Diagnosed
Health care providers and mental health professionals diagnose eating disorders based on history, symptoms, thought patterns, eating behaviors, and an exam.
The doctor will check weight and height and compare these to previous measurements on growth charts. The doctor may order tests to see if there is another reason for the eating problems and to check for problems caused by the eating disorder.
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How Is Anorexia Nervosa Diagnosed
If symptoms are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical examination. Diet history will be taken the individual will be asked about the quantity and variety of foods/food groups and thoughts about food. The doctor will ask about body image and weight loss history and measure weight and height and compare with age-based weight and growth charts. Binge and purging frequency and elimination habits will be discussed. Current medications will also be reviewed. The doctor will also ask about menstrual history, exercise history and family history of eating disorders, substance abuse and psychological disorders .
Although there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose anorexia nervosa, the doctor might use various diagnostic tests, including laboratory values , to rule out physical illness as the cause of the weight loss, as well as to evaluate the severity of illness or the effects of the weight loss on the bodys organs. The doctor may order an electrocardiogram to check for slow heart rate, chest pain, abnormal heart rhythm, or heart flutter.
To be diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, the doctor will determine if three criteria have been met:
What Causes Eating Disorders
There’s no single cause for eating disorders. Genes, environment, and stressful events all play a role. Some things can increase a person’s chance of having an eating disorder, such as:
- poor body image
- too much focus on weight or looks
- dieting at a young age
- playing sports that focus on weight
- having a family member with an eating disorder
- mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or OCD
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What If I Have An Eating Disorder
If you think you may have an eating disorder:
Tell someone. Tell a parent, teacher, counselor, or an adult you trust. Let them know what you’re going through. Ask them to help.
Get help early. When an eating disorder is caught early, a person has a better chance of recovery. Make an appointment with your doctor or an eating disorders specialist.
Go to all appointments. Treatment takes time and effort. Work hard to learn about yourself and your emotions. Ask questions any time you have them.
Be patient with yourself. There’s so much to learn, and change happens a little at a time. Take care of yourself and be with people who support you.
How Can I Participate In Research
Clinical research is medical research that involves people like you. People volunteer to participate in carefully conducted investigations that ultimately uncover better ways to treat, prevent, diagnose, and understand human disease. Clinical research includes clinical research trials that test new treatments and therapies as well as long-term natural history studies, which provide valuable information about how disease and health progress.
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Eating Disorder Symptoms Causes And Effects
Eating disorders are among the most dangerous and difficult to treat of the addiction issues people face. It is easy to see why food is inescapable. Its pretty obvious that a $200-a-day heroin habit is problematic, but everybody needs to eat food every day. While nobody needs cocaine, even the most strenuous binge eater will have need of food every few hours, making recovery a daily struggle.
How Is Anorexia Nervosa Treated
The goals of treatment are to stabilize weight loss, begin nutrition rehabilitation to restore weight, eliminate binge eating/purging behaviors and other ritualistic eating patterns, treat emotional issues such as low self-esteem, correct distorted thinking patterns, and develop long-term behavioral changes.
Treatment options will vary depending on the individuals needs. Treatment most often involves a combination of the following strategies:
This is a type of individual counseling that focuses on changing the thinking and behavior of a person with an eating disorder. Treatment includes practical techniques for developing healthy attitudes toward food and weight, as well as approaches for changing the way the person responds to difficult situations. There are several types of psychotherapy including:
The antipsychotic olanzapine may be helpful for weight gain. Although there is no clear evidence that antidepressant medications can help individuals gain weight, some doctors may prescribe these drugs to help control anxiety and depression associated with an eating disorder.
This strategy is designed to teach a healthy approach to food and weight, to help restore normal eating patterns, and to teach the importance of nutrition and a balanced diet.
Group and/or family therapy
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What Causes Anorexia Nervosa
The exact cause of anorexia nervosa is not known, but research suggests that a combination of certain personality traits, emotions and thinking patterns, as well as biological and environmental factors might be responsible.
People with anorexia nervosa may use food and eating/not eating as a way to gain a sense of control when other areas of their lives are very stressful or when they feel overwhelmed. Feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, or loneliness also might contribute to the development of the disorder. In addition, people with eating disorders might have troubled relationships or have a history of being teased about their size or weight. Pressure from peers and a society that equates thinness and physical appearance with beauty also can have an impact on the development of anorexia nervosa.
There is no single path to an eating disorder. For many, irregular eating behaviors represents an inappropriate coping strategy that becomes permanent over time. This pathway to disordered eating is true for some, but not all, who develop this set of illnesses.
Eating disorders also might have physical causes. Changes in hormones that control how the body and mind maintain mood, appetite, thinking, and memory might foster eating disorders. The fact that anorexia nervosa tends to run in families also suggests that a susceptibility to the disorder might be inherited.
Emotional Symptoms Of An Eating Disorder
The emotional symptoms of an eating disorder are as varied as the causes, and they can sometimes have consequences that are as serious as the underlying disorder from which they spring. If you are feeling the effects of what you think may be an eating disorder, dont hesitate to reach out for help call us at as soon as you can.
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The Importance Of Taking Eating Disorders Seriously
Often, people with eating disorders wont know they have a problem or an eating disorder. It is common for patients with eating disorders to believe that their problem is not serious.
If you are a loved one of a person with an eating disorder, please encourage your loved one to get help. If you are suffering from an eating disorder and are not in treatment, please reach out to a treatment professional. With treatment, most people with eating disorders do recover.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
Who Is At Risk For Eating Disorders
Eating disorders can affect people of all ages, racial/ethnic backgrounds, body weights, and genders. Although eating disorders often appear during the teen years or young adulthood, they may also develop during childhood or later in life .
Remember: People with eating disorders may appear healthy, yet be extremely ill.
The exact cause of eating disorders is not fully understood, but research suggests a combination of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors can raise a persons risk.
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Are Certain Personality Traits More Common In Individuals With Eating Disorders
Individuals who develop eating disorders, especially those with the restricting subtype of anorexia nervosa are often perfectionistic, eager to please others, sensitive to criticism, and self-doubting. They may have difficulty adapting to change and be routine bound. A smaller group of patients with eating disorders have a more extroverted temperament and are novelty-seeking and impulsive with difficulty maintaining stable relationships. There is no one personality associated with eating disorders, however.
Eating Disorders Can Be Treated
No matter what the cause, eating disorders are treatable particularly when care is provided by an experienced, specially-trained team. If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, please call us at 877-825-8584 for a free, confidential assessment with a Masters-level clinician.
Eating Recovery Center is accredited through the Joint Commission. This organization seeks to enhance the lives of the persons served in healthcare settings through a consultative accreditation process emphasizing quality, value and optimal outcomes of services.
Organizations that earn the Gold Seal of Approval have met or exceeded The Joint Commissions rigorous performance standards to obtain this distinctive and internationally recognized accreditation. Learn more about this accreditation here.
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What Should I Do If I Think I Have An Eating Disorder
People with an eating disorder may feel it helps them stay in control of their life. However, as time goes on, the eating disorder can start to control them. If you have an eating disorder, you may also have the urge to harm yourself or misuse alcohol or drugs.
Talk to someone you trust such as a close friend or family member if you think you have an eating disorder. You can also call the Butterfly Foundation National Helpline . You can also call the Butterfly Foundation for advice if you’re concerned about a family member or friend.
Your doctor can advise you on diagnosis and possible treatment options, which will depend on your individual circumstances and the type of eating disorder you have.
What Are Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are serious mental health disorders. They involve severe problems with your thoughts about food and your eating behaviors. You may eat much less or much more than you need.
Eating disorders are medical conditions they are not a lifestyle choice. They affect your body’s ability to get proper nutrition. This can lead to health issues, such as heart and kidney problems, or sometimes even death. But there are treatments that can help.
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Depression And Eating Disorders
Depression and eating disorders often occur together in the same individual. Sometimes the depression is caused or exacerbated by the negative health and social consequences of the eating disorder. Sometimes the eating disorder is triggered as the result of an attempt by the patient to use abnormal eating habits to essentially self-medicate by way of food intake.
How Do I Know If I Need Inpatient Treatment
If you think you have an eating disorder, if your symptoms have persisted or worsened despite attempts at outpatient treatment, or if you feel constantly preoccupied by thoughts of food and weight, then a good place to start is with a comprehensive evaluation in our Consultation Clinic. To safely provide the best possible care during the COVID pandemic, we have expanded our outpatient telemedicine services to include remote clinical consultation and outpatient visits with our eating disorders doctors by videolink across multiple states. Video visits allow patients to connect face-to-face in real time without leaving their home by using their smartphone, tablet or computer. Virtual connections are secure and HIPAA compliant.
You will be seen by a psychiatrist who will perform a thorough review of your history and symptoms, medical tests and past treatment. We recommend you forward any past treatment records ahead of your appointment for the doctor to review. Whenever possible we ask that you attend the consultation with a close family member or significant other, since we believe family support and involvement is very important when you are struggling with an eating disorder. The doctor will also be interested in any medical or psychiatric problems you may have besides the eating disorder.
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