Many celebrities have opened up publicly about a very private battle, and in doing so, they have paved the way for more open discussions about eating disorders and cultural standards for beauty and body type. Russell Brand, Kesha, Lily Collins, Elton John, Hilary Duff, Zoe Kravitz, Zayn Malik, Jane Fonda, Shawn Johnson, and Demi Lovato, just to name a small handful, are some of the stars who fight bulimia or anorexia, but as they would admit, disordered eating and distorted body images do not just plague Hollywood’s most rich and famous: approximately 30 million American are afflicted with bulimia or anorexia.
Some people may think of eating disorders as a finicky or picky phase, but that is a mischaracterization that minimizes these life-threatening disorders. Only about 10 percent of people with bulimia or anorexia receive the interventions they need, and without treatment, they may cause acute health problems. Anorexia, particularly, holds the highest death rates of all psychiatric disorders.
And yet, effective psychological and medical treatments are available for anorexia and bulimia. Interventions plans can be crafted to meet each individual’s needs and symptoms, but as with many disorders, the first step toward healthy eating habits and self-perceptions is gathering the courage to ask for help.
Thriveworks Lynchburg offers treatment for bulimia and anorexia. Our counselors understand the mental and physical health difficulties that an eating disorder can cause, and our goal is to provide each client with holistic care.
Anorexia and Bulimia: Diagnosing and Distinguishing
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa may be the most well-known eating disorders, and they are often connected. They both affect men and women, and they both may be accompanied with other psychological disorders such as PTSD or depression. Eating disorders can occur in young children and older adults, but they most often develop during a person’s teen and early adult years.
Bulimia and anorexia share many diagnostics, they are separate disorders with different characteristics.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) distinguishes anorexia with the following diagnostics:
- Experiencing acute and illogical terror at the thought of gaining weight that results in actions that impede healthy weight maintenance and gain.
- Severely restricting food intake in order to achieve a significantly lower body weight than normal (in relationship to healthy standards for one’s sex, age, physical health, and developmental trajectory).
- Feeling disdain for one’s body shape and weight; being unable see one’s low body weight.
The DSM-5 distinguishes bulimia with the following diagnostics:
- Trying to hinder weight gain through repetitive and compulsive behaviors such as misusing medications like laxatives and diuretics; fasting frequently and excessively; self-induced vomiting; or exercising obsessively.
- Repetitive times of binge eating that involve
- Lost control of food intake.
- Consuming more food than most people would consume during a similar time period and circumstances.
- A self-perception that is overshadowed by one’s weight and size.
The details of how, when, and why bulimia or anorexia surface in an individual are often personal, painful, and intimate. Each diagnosis is, in many ways, unique. However, mental health professionals also speak about two general categories of causes for bulimia and anorexia that may be helpful to name: biological and environmental.
- Genetic predispositions, nutritional deficiencies, and irregular hormone functions are examples of biological causes.
- Living in a culture obsessed with body-type, unrealistic ideals of beauty, family or childhood trauma, and peer pressure to be thin are examples of environmental causes.
Potential Health Problems
The cultural obsession with skinny body types does not automatically equal a cultural obsession with health. Healthy and skinny are distinct ideas, and at times, they are even at odds as the low body weight that bulimia and anorexia can cause may come with a variety of potential but severe health problems.
A handful of the health problems anorexia may induce include risk of heart failure and disease, low heart rate, abnormal heartbeat, low blood pressure, disruptions in menstrual cycle, infertility, disruptions in the endocrine system, low white blood cell counts, anemia, premature osteoporosis, kidney damage, and premature death.
A handful of the health problems bulimia may induce include electrolyte imbalance, ulcers, kidney damage, gastroesophageal reflux disease, constipation, tooth decay, gastric rupture, and heart failure.
Counseling for Anorexia or Bulimia
Did you recognize any of the foundational causes of bulimia in your life? Do you struggle with the behaviors or self-images that characterize anorexia? You are not alone. Thriveworks Lynchburg has tailored many holistic counseling plans that have helped our clients overcome bulimia or anorexia.
We know that it can be hard to reach out for help. Here are a few things we have done to make scheduling counseling as convenient as possible. Most first-time clients see their counselor within 24 hours. We offer evening and weekend appointments, and we work with most insurance providers.
Thriveworks Lynchburg may have the support you need to overcome bulimia and anorexia. Call today at (434) 528-3263 to schedule your time with our skilled and caring counselors.