Food is necessary for survival. When an individual develops a complicated and unhealthy relationship with food, it can lead to severe consequences for their mental and physical health. Eating disorders are a serious mental health condition that revolve around an unhealthy preoccupation with one’s diet, body shape, and weight. Eating disorders can lead to severe symptoms such as a negative body image, health problems, and dangerous, self-destructive behaviors. Patients with eating disorders are also prone to anxiety, depression, and other related mental health conditions.
Understanding the signs and behaviors of various eating disorders is the first step to seeking treatment. Read on to see the different types of eating disorders explained and discover how you can find the professional help you need.
Understanding Where Eating Disorders Come From
Like all mental health conditions, eating disorders stem from a variety of issues. Genetics might make some individuals more prone to an eating disorder, while others might be at risk because of social influences. Media and other cultural influences that emphasize being thin or muscular can create body image issues for both men and women. Personal factors like childhood bullying or the environment you were raised in can also affect your relationship with food.
Anorexia Nervosa, often referred to as anorexia, is among the most severe and well-known eating disorders. Anorexia creates a distorted image of the body. People with anorexia have an intense fear of gaining weight and often view themselves as overweight, even if they are severely underweight. In fact, many individuals with anorexia often refuse to acknowledge their condition as unhealthy in any way. Anorexia leads to dangerous behaviors such as self-starvation or intensely restricted eating habits, obsessive-compulsive thoughts about food or exercise, or weight control techniques like laxatives or diuretics.
While there are several physical symptoms of anorexia, the underlying causes are psychological. That’s why seeking help from a Licensed Clinical Psychologist is an essential step to addressing and overcoming this condition. Working with a Licensed Clinical Psychologist can help you better understand the sources of anorexia, adjust unhealthy thoughts and patterns regarding food and weight, and break the destructive habits that prevent recovery.
Another well-known eating disorder is bulimia nervosa, also known as bulimia. Bulimia revolves around binge-eating and subsequently purging as a way to prevent weight gain, feel a sense of control, or cope with difficult times. An individual with bulimia will often eat a large amount of food in a specific timeframe, then feel the need to compensate for the behavior by purging. Purging behaviors might include forced vomiting or the use of laxatives or diuretics.
Bulimia—especially the dangerous purging techniques related to bulimia—can lead to unhealthy side effects like severe dehydration, tooth decay, problems or irritation in the digestive system, and electrolyte imbalance. It’s important to seek professional treatment for bulimia so that you can identify and address the psychological factors that lead to this condition. A professional Licensed Clinical Psychologist can help you regain a healthy relationship with food while simultaneously overcoming the influences of other mental health conditions that led to your eating disorder.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is a psychological condition that revolves around recurring episodes of binge eating. It’s important to note that binge eating is not the same as overindulging in a favorite food, which is a normal behavior that everyone exhibits from time to time. An individual with a binge eating disorder will experience a loss of control and an irresistible urge to eat despite feelings of embarrassment or discomfort. Binge eating disorder can share symptoms with bulimia or anorexia, but individuals with a binge eating disorder don’t restrict calories or purge to compensate for binges.
Like all eating disorders, binge eating disorder stems from negative thoughts, unhealthy behaviors, and the influence of other mental health conditions. A Licensed Clinical Psychologist can help you identify these issues and overcome your unhealthy relationship with food. An individualized and comprehensive treatment plan will give you the tools you need to feel in control of your diet and your life again.
Compulsive overeating is similar to binge eating disorder, albeit less common. People who suffer from compulsive overeating eat large amounts of food to the point of discomfort. The difference is that compulsive overeating causes individuals to eat throughout the entire day rather than solely during a short period of time.
For some individuals, compulsive overeating is a way to cope with feelings of stress, anxiety, or other forms of negativity. For others, compulsive overeating is a response to an overly restrictive diet. No matter what the source is, cognitive behavioral therapy and other professional treatments can help patients reshape negative thoughts and overcome an unhealthy relationship with food.
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
Previously referred to as Selective Eating Disorder, Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) refers to intense selectivity of the food you eat. Like anorexia, people suffering from ARFID create dangerous limitations and restrictions for their diets. These restrictions can lead to unhealthy levels of weight loss.
However, unlike anorexia and many other eating disorders, ARFID doesn’t involve stress about body image or weight. Individuals with ARFID instead avoid food due to a distaste of certain smells, textures, tastes, or other properties. ARFID is far more severe than general picky eating. Individuals with ARFID can experience unhealthy weight loss, nutrient deficiencies, and other dangerous side effects. Concierge-style care allows patients to receive the individualized therapies and treatments they need to overcome unhealthy habits as well as the harmful thoughts that accompany them.
Seeking Professional Help
Explaining the different types of eating disorders is only the first step to finding the help you need. Eating disorders are psychological conditions that require the help of a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. At Blair Wellness Group, we know that eating disorders often come with other mental health conditions that can make finding help difficult. That’s why we offer comprehensive, individualized care that can help you identify both the symptoms of your eating disorder and the influences that caused and worsened the disorder in the first place.
Blair Wellness Group offers experienced and compassionate care for a variety of eating disorders and the mental health conditions that accompany them. When you need a clinical psychologist for eating disorders in the Los Angeles area, don’t hesitate to contact Blair Wellness Group.