Eating Disorders

The term eating disorders refers to a variety of disorders. The common feature of all the eating disorders is abnormal eating behaviors. Eating disorders are serious mental health problems and can be life threatening.

Several types of eating disorders require the clinical care of a psychiatrist or other mental health professional. Listed in the directory below are some, for which we have provided a brief overview.

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that causes you to obsess about your weight and food. If you have this problem, you may have a warped body image. You may see yourself as fat even though you have a very low body weight.

With anorexia, you may use unusual eating habits to cope with stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Limiting food may give you a sense of control over your life.

This problem affects more women than men. It often starts during the teenage years.

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by uncontrolled episodes of overeating, called bingeing, followed by purging with methods such as vomiting or misuse of laxatives.

Bingeing is eating much larger amounts of food than you would normally eat in a short period of time, usually less than 2 hours. You may feel like you can’t stop or control these episodes of binge eating.

The binge-purge cycles can happen from many times a day to several times a week.

Binge Eating Disorder is an illness that involves eating a large amount of food in a specific period of time. Those who suffer from binge eating disorder will eat significantly more food than others during the same amount of time, under the same circumstances. It differs from bulimia in that its sufferers do not purge their bodies of the excess food via vomiting, laxative abuse, or diuretic abuse.

Treatments

Treatments for eating disorders can depend on your age, overall health, medical history, symptoms, and other factors. Urgent medical care may be needed for physical problems.

Nutrition counseling can help you learn how to make healthy food choices. 
Therapy can help you learn how to deal with emotions and improve coping skills. Sometimes medication can also help to treat underlying mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

People with eating disorders can recover. However, they're at increased risk of relapse during periods of high stress or during triggering situations. Ongoing therapy and nutrition education are highly important to continued recovery.

Treatment for anorexia nervosa usually includes treatment by a team of medical professionals, mental health providers and dietitians, all with experience in eating disorders.

Patients suffering from anorexia nervosa may need to be treated for immediate medical issues like a heart rhythm disturbance, dehydration, severe malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances or psychiatric problems. Hospitalization may be required, on a medical or psychiatric ward.

One of the first goals of medical treatment will be to restore the patient to a healthy weight. Teaching proper nutrition - including regular eating patterns, meal plans and calorie requirements - is important for both you and your family.

Some type of psychotherapy is usually needed as part of anorexia treatment. Both individual and family therapy are often recommended.

The main goal is to normalize eating patterns and behaviors to support weight gain. The second goal is to help change distorted beliefs and perceptions about body image that are causing the restrictive eating. This therapy may take place on an inpatient or outpatient basis.

No medications have been specifically approved to treat anorexia; however, antidepressants or other medications can help treat other mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety.

Anorexia can be difficult to treat because some people may not want or think they need treatment. They may also be so fearful of gaining weight that they refuse to comply with treatment.

Some alternative medicine treatments, in combination with traditional therapy, have been shown to help reduce anxiety and increase a patient's sense of well-being. Some examples include acupuncture, massage, yoga and meditation.


Treatment for bulimia may include. . .

Binge eating disorder may be treated with a combination of psychotherapy, medication and behavior modification programs.

Psychotherapy can help teach you how to exchange unhealthy habits for healthy ones and reduce bingeing episodes.

Vyvanse, a drug that's used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is the first FDA-approved medication to treat moderate to severe binge-eating disorder.

Other medications that may help reduce symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • The anticonvulsant topiramate (Topamax). Normally used to control seizures, topiramate has also been found to reduce binge-eating episodes.
  • Antidepressants. Antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be helpful. It's not clear how these can reduce binge eating, but it may relate to how they affect certain brain chemicals associated with mood.

Many people with binge-eating disorder have a history of failed attempts to lose weight on their own. Medically supervised weight-loss programs that ensure nutritional requirements are met and address specific binge triggers can be especially helpful when you're also getting cognitive behavioral therapy.

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Treatments for Eating Disorders

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Symptoms and Screenings for Eating Disorders

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Causes and Preventions for Eating Disorders

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Education and Resources for Eating Disorders

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Support groups for Eating Disorders

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