Lauteasha Williams, LMFT | Make an Appointment: info@bluelotusfamilytherapy.com | (770) 609-9844
(Licensed in GA and FL)

Eating Disorders

Any mental health disorder can present risk factors across the duration of a person’s life. However, the mental health conditions that have the highest mortality rates are eating disorders. There are several types of eating disorders; each has its own set of associated health risks that involve multiple body systems, making this class of mental health disorders the deadliest of all psychiatric illnesses.

Eating disorders are classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition as eating-related behaviors that result in changes in the consumption of food and impairment of health or psychosocial factors. Currently, an estimated 30 million Americans live with an eating disorder. Eating disorders affect people of all genders, races and socioeconomic levels. Someone dies from an eating disorder every 62 minutes.

WHAT ARE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF AN EATING DISORDER?

Eating disorders, or disordered eating, can include the following signs and symptoms:

  • Persistent restriction, bingeing, or purging behaviors
  • Fear of gaining weight or chronic behaviors to avoid gaining weight
  • Feelings of guilt and shame associated with eating
  • Preoccupation with food, weight and body image
  • Over control or loss of control around food and eating
  • Chronic weight cycling, and valuing size, weight, and shape over health
  • Rituals or routines around food and exercise

As with other mental health issues, it is important to explore how and to what extent the eating disorder or disordered eating is affecting an individual’s daily functioning. Issues to consider include the following:

  • Concentration and ability to focus — Do thoughts about food, body, and exercise prevent concentration or impede performance at work or school?
  • Social life — Is socializing restricted because it might require eating in a restaurant, consumption of foods that are scary or uncomfortable, or disruption of exercise routine?
  • Coping skills — Is food consumption and/or restriction used as a way to manage life’s problems or cope with stressors?
  • Discomfort or anxiety — How much discomfort do thoughts of food and body cause? Are these thoughts hard to shake and anxiety-provoking?

While disordered eating may not result in the extreme symptoms seen in a diagnosable eating disorder, it has the potential to negatively impact a person’s life. For example, someone with disordered eating may miss work, school or personal events because of anxiety or discomfort around food, or because of an obsessive exercise routine. Their obsession with food and exercise may affect their ability to focus or concentrate, impacting their performance at work or school.

Disordered eating can also take a mental and physical toll on a person. Negative self-thinking can impact their mental health, and their poor eating habits can affect them physically, such as their cardiovascular and intestinal health. Disordered eating also puts the individual at high risk for developing an eating disorder.

What causes people to engage in harmful eating habits can be complex, and vary per the individual. Individual therapy can help people examine their past to understand what led to these behaviors, and learn to accept and love themselves as they are. You can also work together with a therapist to create healthier habits and develop coping mechanisms for difficult cues or triggers-overall helping you to cultivate the life you want to live by creating healthier habits for both your body and mind.

If you or a loved one is struggling with any of these symptoms and behaviors give my office a call today, and let’s schedule a time to talk.