People commonly associate eating disorders with celebrities and Hollywood. Just to name a few, Zayn Malik, Lily Collins, Demi Lovato, Elton John, Jane Fonda, Kesha, Russell Brand, Shawn Johnson, Zoe Kravitz, and Hillary Duff are superstars who have opened up about their fight with bulimia or anorexia. While Hollywood has a reputation for contributing to unhealthy body stereotypes, the problem is not just in celebrity culture. A lot of average people wrestle with their eating habits and feelings about their body size and/or weight.
Thinking of anorexia or bulimia as a picky phase that will pass or as a problem only for celebrities is tempting, but reality is that they are life-threatening illnesses that approximately 30 million people face. Without treatment, eating disorders can cause severe health problems, and anorexia claims the highest death rate for any psychiatric disorder. Yet, only about 10 percent of people who suffer with anorexia or bulimia receive the help they need.
Part of what makes that statistic so sad is that bulimia and anorexia have effective treatments. Psychological, nutritional, and medical interventions can be tailored to each person’s unique symptoms and needs. The first step, however, is usually acknowledging the problem and asking for help.
If you or someone you love is struggling with anorexia and bulimia, know that Thriveworks Manassas in Prince William provides counseling and therapy to treat eating disorders. We provide holistic care that can treat the psychological causes and the medical challenges of bulimia and anorexia.
What Causes Anorexia and Bulimia?
When, where, and how bulimia or anorexia develops in each individual is personal and varied, but therapists often speak of two general causes of eating disorders: environmental and biological.
- Biological causes may include nutritional deficiencies, genetics, and irregular hormone functions.
- Environmental causes may include living in a culture obsessed with body type, thinness, and impossible concepts of beauty; peer pressure to look a certain way; and childhood abuse or trauma.
Symptoms and Signs
There are many types of eating disorders, but anorexia and bulimia are the most common and well-known. Irregular eating habits and severe pre-occupation with body shape and weight characterize all eating disorders. These irregular eating habits, for example, may look like eating far too little or far too much. Often, anxiety disorder or depression accompany eating disorders. While an eating disorder can surface at any time, they most often appear during adolescence or young adulthood. Both men and women are affected by eating disorders.
Usually known simply as anorexia, anorexia nervosa is characterized by the following criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5):
- Restricting food intake to less than the body needs (as based upon weight, age, sex, physical health, and developmental trajectory) that results in a significantly low body weight.
- Intense fear of weight gain or being fat; obsessive behaviors that impede weight gain.
- Disrupted self-image so that body weight and shape are experienced as heavier and larger than reality.
Usually known simply as bulimia, bulimia nervosa is characterized by the following criteria in DSM-5:
- Repetitive times of binge eating, including,
- Eating, during a period of time, food that is clearly more than most people would eat during the same period of time.
- Loss of control over eating during these times.
- Repeated, inappropriate, compensatory behaviors that attempt to prevent weight gain, such as misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications; self-induced vomiting; fasting; or excessive exercise.
- A self-perception that is consumed by body weight and shape.
Accompanying Health Problems
Well-intentioned friends and family may compliment people who struggle with anorexia or bulimia on how slim or healthy they look, but such praise may be more harmful than helpful because it encourages a potentially deadly disorder. Slim is not the same as healthy, and a host of severe health problems often accompany anorexia and bulimia, unfortunately.
People who wrestle with anorexia may also experience low blood pressure, low heart rate, abnormal heart beat, increased risk of heart disease and failure, infertility, disrupted menstrual cycles, disrupted endocrine system, anemia, premature osteoporosis, kidney damage, low white blood cells, and ultimately, death.
People who wrestle with bulimia may also experience tooth decay, ulcers, gastric rupture, gastroesophageal reflux disease, kidney damage, electrolyte imbalance, constipation, and heart failure.
Treating Bulimia or Anorexia
While reading about bulimia or anorexia, did any of the signs, symptoms, or causes sound familiar to you? If you or someone you love struggles with an eating disorder, know that many effective treatment plans are available. The counselors at Thriveworks Manassas in Prince William understand what it takes to treat the root cause of anorexia or bulimia and can tailor a plan to meet each client’s unique needs.
We know that acknowledging a problem and asking for help takes courage so we have done what we can to make scheduling treatment as easy as possible. We want to support each client from the moment they dial our office throughout their treatment.
When you call Thriveworks Manassas, VA in Prince William County a person will answer and help schedule your treatment session. We offer night and weekend appointments, and many first-time clients see their counselor within 24-hours. We do not keep waitlists, but we work with many insurance providers to give affordable, timely treatment.
Bulimia and anorexia are treatable disorders, and you do not have to fight them alone. Thriveworks Manassas is here to help. Call today.