Eating Disorders • ZwavelStream Clinic • Mental Health and Wellness

Eating Disorder

Why You Should Seek Treatment for Eating Disorder

Eating Disorder | There are many different types of eating disorders but all have the same thing in common: they are mental health conditions that present in extreme, unhealthy eating habits. Eating disorders are commonly rooted in low self-esteem and when left untreated, can have devastating effects. For example, the physical consequences of eating disorders include heart damage (as well as damage to other organs), tooth decay, stunted growth, developmental issues, weak bones, and sometimes even death. Aside from the physical, people with eating disorders usually have trouble performing well at work or school, and their relationships with others deteriorate. Therefore it’s clear that – as with any mental illness – it’s best to seek treatment as soon as possible.

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Eating Disorder Treatment


What is Eating Disorders?

As mentioned above, an eating disorder is a mental disorder where an individual develops unhealthy and ultimately harmful eating practices. This could be in the form of eating too little, or too much. In some cases, it involves eating too much and then ‘purging’ everything you’ve ingested soon after. The three main types of eating disorders speak to this:

  • Anorexia: Food intake is limited to the extreme to promote drastic weight loss.
  • Bulimia: Large amounts of food is consumed in a short time, and then purged by means of induced vomiting.
  • Binge-Eating: There is a lack of control when it comes to eating very large amounts of food in short periods.


Symptoms of Eating Disorders

The physical and behavioural symptoms of an eating disorder are usually the easiest to spot. In terms of behaviour, someone with an eating disorder will seem overly secretive about their eating habits. They will obsess about their body and view themselves in a negative light. Also, frequent use of laxatives and visiting the bathroom right after eating is always cause for concern. With regard to physical symptoms, extreme fluctuations in weight is an obvious one. Then there are other signs that might not seem obvious at first. For instance, tooth decay, reduced muscle mass, and irregular periods in females.


Causes of Eating Disorders

Studies have shown that there is a range of factors that could cause an eating disorder. These factors are categorized into genetic and environmental. In the case of biology, people with close family members who also struggle with eating disorders are at higher risk of developing one themselves. That said, a person’s environment plays just as critical a role. This includes being surrounded by people – family or friends – who constantly criticize physical appearance and weight. An environment like this creates the perfect grounds for developing an eating disorder. First, it puts in place an often unattainable ideal body and secondly, it promotes feelings of shame and worthlessness for not having the ideal body.


Treatment for Eating Disorders


Therapy

The goal of treating an eating disorder is always to help the patient develop healthy eating habits. With psychotherapy the focus is on Family-based therapy, and Cognitive Behavioural therapy. By including the family in therapy sessions when the patient is a minor, a good primary support system is put in place to ensure healthy eating habits are followed. In CBT, new behaviours and thinking patterns are learned to help with negative thoughts surrounding the patient’s sense of self, as well as their perception of food and how it impacts their body. In addition to this, they might explore ways in which the patient can cope with daily stress and triggering situations in healthier ways.


Prescribed Medication

Although there are no medications that can cure an eating disorder, certain drugs might be prescribed to manage mental illness associated with it. An example of this is when someone with an eating disorder also suffers from depression or anxiety (or both). Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication would then be given as a way to reduce the symptoms of the mental illness. In so doing, the patient is in a better position to accept progress made in therapy, and thereby make healthy choices about their diet. So as far as medication goes, it can form part of the greater support and treatment provided by therapy, but should not be taken for a cure on its own.


Natural Treatments

As with medication, any natural treatment of eating disorders should be approached as part of a more extensive treatment plan. This plan should at the very least include therapy, as mentioned previously. With that, it’s been proven that adopting certain changes to your lifestyle will greatly improve chances of recovery and well-being. To start, make regular exercise a part of your daily routine. Along with this, be very strict about sticking to a balanced and nutritious eating plan. Healthy eating might be difficult in the beginning, and in these cases vitamin and mineral supplements will help. Finally, steer clear of triggers like scales, or constant scrutinizing in mirrors. This will leave you in a space free from self-criticism and help you achieve wellness.

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