Zosia Mamet, Russell Brand, Gabourey Sidibe, Candace Cameron Bure, Zayn Malik, Demi Lovato, Jane Fonda, Elton John, Portia De Rossi, Lady Gaga, Whitney Cummings, Kesha and more are just a handful of celebrities who have spoken publicly about their private battle against an eating disorder. While Hollywood is infamously connected to eating disorders, stars are not the only ones who struggle. As many as 30 million people in the United States have an eating disorder, experiencing an adversarial relationship with their own bodies.
“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.”
― Simone de Beauvoir
People’s minds and bodies are interconnected such that physical illnesses take their toll emotionally and mental illnesses can display themselves physically. Eating disorders, like bulimia and anorexia, are a good example. They introduce severe physical risks, and anorexia even claims the highest death rate of any psychiatric disorder. Treatment for eating disorders often includes both medical and psychological interventions. And yet, only about 10 percent of those who struggle receive the help they need for their eating disorder. Recognizing the seriousness of these illnesses and reaching out for help are often the first steps toward healing.
Thriveworks New Orleans offers treatment for eating disorders that addresses both the mental and the physical harm that these illnesses can cause. Bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders require holistic care, and our staff cares about finding healing for our clients’ bodies and minds.
How Are Eating Disorders Caused?
The specifics of when, how, and why bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders develop are often deeply personal as no two individuals have the same story. And yet, mental health professionals often speak generally of two different causes that are often present in people’s lives when eating disorders form:
- Biological Causes: Eating disorders can run in families and leave people with a genetic predisposition. Irregular hormone functions can disrupt people’s weight management and appetite, raising their risk for an eating disorder. Similarly, nutritional deficiencies can be a contributing factor.
- Environmental Causes: A cultural emphasis upon a certain weight or body size can lead to more people who struggle with an eating disorder within that environment. When people feel pressure to be a certain shape, these expectations often open the door for bulimia or anorexia. Another environmental factor is family stress and childhood abuse. Deep psychological wounds can easily manifest as an eating disorder as people do their best to cope.
Diagnosing Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are not picky phases that adolescents grow out of. No, they are serious mental illnesses, and The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) outlines diagnostics for recognizing them.
The DSM-5 defines anorexia as:
- A deep and abiding fear of gaining weight or being fat that drives people to undermine the maintenance of a healthy body weight.
- Experience disdain against one’s own body that often manifests as an inability to see one’s body accurately. Instead, people with anorexia experience their body as far larger and heavier than it is.
- Severely limiting what one eats so that an unhealthy, low body weight is achieved (in comparison to healthy standards for an individual’s sex, physical size, development, and age).
Anorexia can raise people’s risk for other health problems, including low heart rate, anemia, low blood pressure, kidney damage, abnormal heartbeat, disruptions in menstrual cycle, risk of heart failure and disease, infertility, low white blood cell counts, disruptions in the endocrine system, premature osteoporosis, and premature death.
The DSM-5 defines bulimia as:
- Repeated times of binge eating that is characterized by…
- An uncontrollable urge to consume food and drink.
- Eating more during a specific period of time than most people can or would eat in the same period of time.
- Compensating for these binges and attempting to lose weight through destructive means such as overuse and misuse of medications like laxative and diuretics, forcing oneself to regurgitate food, fasting frequently and for too long, and exercising unreasonably and even to the point of injury.
- A self-perception that is overwhelmed by one’s body image and weight while qualities like skills, intellect, and personality are ignored or downplayed.
Like anorexia, bulimia can raise people’s risk for other health problems, including ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease, tooth decay, gastric rupture, constipation, kidney damage, electrolyte imbalance, and heart failure.
Interventions for Eating Disorders—Setting Up an Appointment with Thriveworks New Orleans
When you were reading through the diagnostics for bulimia and anorexia, did anything stand out to you? Did you recognize any symptoms in your own life? If you are feeling disconnected from your own body, it may be time to reach out for help. No one has to fight an eating disorder alone. The mental health professionals at Thriveworks New Orleans offer holistic and individualized care.
When you call our office to set up your first appointment, know that a scheduling specialist (a real person—not a voicemail or automated response) will answer your call and help you schedule an appointment. Many new clients have their first session within 24 hours because when you are ready to get started, we are too. We also understand that not everyone can make an appointment during business hours, so we offer evening and weekend sessions. We work with many insurance companies and accept most plans.
You are not alone in the battle against an eating disorder. Let’s work together. Contact Thriveworks New Orleans today.