Treatment for Eating Disorders in Cache Valley
We offer treatment of eating disorders at Abundant Family Practice. The common misconception is that eating disorders are a choice, but they are actually serious (and, far too often, fatal) behavioral illnesses associated with severe disturbances in a person’s eating behaviors and their thoughts and feelings about food involving an unhealthy obsession with food and weight.
Common eating disorders include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. The most deadly is anorexia, but all eating disorders are harmful to every system in the body. Complete recovery is possible with treatment through mental health services and a fundamental change in the patient’s relationship with food.
Anorexia Nervosa is much more serious than simply skipping a meal here or there. It is purposely restricting one’s caloric intake to the point of starvation out of a desire to be thin. However, people with this disorder have generally lost all perspective on what a healthy definition of “thin” is, seeing any amount of body fat as unacceptable. They may only eat tiny amounts of low-calorie foods or refuse to eat at all.
Symptoms of anorexia include an obsession with fat content and food calories, decreased testosterone in males or changes in menstruation or a loss of periods altogether in females, feeling cold (body fat is built-in insulation), loss of hair or growth of soft, downy hair on the body, and anxiety. As many as half of anorexia patients struggle with a comorbid anxiety disorder like OCD or social phobia.
Over time, anorexia can lead to medical complications including anemia, heart problems (up to and including heart failure), bone loss that increases the risk of fractures, muscle loss, and gastrointestinal problems. 1 in 5 deaths of anorexia sufferers is by suicide. It is one of the deadliest mental health illnesses.
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by binging on huge amounts of food, followed by forcing a purge either by making themselves vomit or taking laxatives. It can also include an unhealthy amount of exercise and dieting between binges. Unlike anorexia sufferers, bulimics are not typically extremely thin. They might even look like they’re a normal weight.
Symptoms of bulimia include eating a large amount of food in one sitting, feeling out of control about their eating and other habits, excessive exercise, depression, mood swings, and oral health issues due to frequently exposing their teeth and gums to stomach acid during purges.
On the other end of the spectrum of eating disorders is binge-eating disorder. Instead of avoiding food, binge-eaters also called compulsive overeaters, eat far too much food without purging afterward. They often keep eating uncontrollably even after they feel full.
After a binge, they may feel ashamed or guilty and attempt to compensate with extreme diets. They can be obese, overweight, or of a normal weight. This is the only eating disorder that affects as many men as women. Symptoms of binge-eating include eating rapidly, eating when not hungry, and eating alone.
Eating Disorder Treatment for the Individual Patient
Each treatment plan for an eating disorder is unique to the patient’s needs, but it often includes a combination of medical stabilization (if damage has already been done to the body), psychiatric stabilization to combat the underlying causes of the compulsions around food, nutritional rehabilitation to repair the relationship with food, medication (such as antidepressants), and, when appropriate, weight restoration for anorexia patients.
You Are Not Alone in This Fight
Some people struggling with eating disorders may consider it a personal failure that they haven’t been able to stop these dangerous eating habits, and some may even have enablers in their lives who reinforce the behavior. Chad Speth and the team at Abundant Family Practice are here to help you regain control of the way you eat so that you can live the full and healthy life you deserve. You can learn more about our family practice on our business page, and make sure to get directions before you head our way.