Eating disorders are not a new pandemic, nor are they superficial. Disordered eating patterns and body perception issues like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, overeating/binge eating, exercise bulimia, and body dysmorphia have clinical classification in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Although we do not hold definitive findings on the direct cause of eating disorders, a consensus is that these disorders are biologically and ecologically influenced. Eating disorders follow addiction patterns; the presentation of and eating disorder is the expressive representation of ones disrupted equilibrium and maladaptive coping. Eating disorders present cross culturally, saturating every class, color, age, and sex. This can be a life threatening affliction.
Know the warning signs
Identifying the development or manifestation of an eating disorder can be difficult. Individuals struggling with these disorders often go to extraordinary lengths to hide symptomology, and may not even identify there is a problem. If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, it is important to become educated and to seek professional help.
Some common warning signs (this is not an exhaustive list), please note that symptoms may cross present.
- Constant or repetitive dieting
- Evidence of binge eating
- Evidence of vomiting or laxative abuse
- Excessive or compulsive exercise patterns
- Patterns or obsessive rituals around food preparation and eating
- Frequent avoidance of eating meals by giving excuses
- Strong focus on body shape and weight
- Development of repetitive or obsessive body checking behaviors
- Deceptive behavior around food
- Increased preoccupation with body shape, weight and appearance
- Intense fear of gaining weight
- Constant preoccupation with food or with activities relating to food
- Distorted body image
- Heightened sensitivity to comments or criticism about body shape or weight, eating or exercise habits
- Depression or anxiety
- Moodiness or irritability
- Low self esteem
- Feelings of life being ‘out of control’
(list retrieved from www.eatingdisorders.org.au, 2018)
Those suffering with an eating disorder have high rates of co-occurring mental illness and/or addiction affliction.
What about treatment?
Education and therapeutic intervention can be a lifeline. Eating disorders can have devastating psychological and medical consequences, but treatment is available. Clint Davis Counseling offers eating disorder group therapy and individual therapy. The group is psychotherapy based. Prior registration is required for participation. Minors will need parental/guardian consent which will be obtained at time of registration. The fee for a9 week session is $200 and is due on or before the start date. The group provides the following:
- Root causes
- What’s food got to do with it?
- What is control?
- Common triggers
- Distress tolerance
- Self esteem building – practicing self regard
- Address the addiction
- Address the phobias
- Group work: sharing, listening, respecting
Breaking down barriers, addressing control patterns, trusting others
- Identify triggers, identify healthy coping strategies
- Safety planning – establishing trigger protocols and support network
- Tools for recovery process – looking ahead