To the Bone was a hit movie on Netflix, but it also put a spotlight on an important cultural conversation: eating disorders. All too often, bulimia and anorexia are seen as a Hollywood problem. It is true that many stars have spoken out about their struggle—Russell Brand, Zosia Mamet, Gabourey Sidibe, Zayn Malik, Demi Lovato, Jane Fonda, Elton John, Lady Gaga, and Kesha, to name a few. Even the lead actress on To the Bone, Lily Collins opened up about her own battle with anorexia. And yet, bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders affect far more people than celebrities. As many as 30 million people in the United States are fighting for their mental and physical health as they fight against an eating disorder.
“I breathe in slowly. Food is life. I exhale, take another breath. Food is life.
And that’s the problem. When you’re alive, people can hurt you.
It’s easier to crawl into a bone cage or a snowdrift of confusion.
It’s easier to lock everybody out. But it’s a lie.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls
People’s minds and bodies are interconnected so that an illness in one is often a threat to the other. For example, when people have diabetes or cancer, these illnesses often take a toll on their mind and emotions as well. The same is true for mental illnesses—they can take a severe toll upon the body. Eating disorders may be the prime example. These mental illnesses come with a host of physical challenges. Anorexia, in particular, has the highest rate of death of any psychiatric disorder. Because eating disorders pose a holistic threat, treatment must also be holistic.
Many of the best interventions are multi-disciplinary. They address an individual’s body and mind, and so they often mean that nutritionists, counselors, and physicians work together. Of course, many times, the first step in any intervention is seeking out help.
The counselors and therapists at Thriveworks Oakland have helped many clients who are fighting an eating disorder find holistic treatment. We offer individualized treatment plans to each client, and we have provided the support many people have needed to overcome bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, consider scheduling eating disorder therapy at Thriveworks Oakland Counseling.
Bulimia and Anorexia: The Signs and Symptoms
Knowing the signs and symptoms of bulimia and anorexia can help people recognize them and potentially seek out early treatment. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) describes each.
The DSM-5 details anorexia nervosa with the following symptoms:
- Experiencing one’s body as larger and heavier than it truly is—a false self-image.
- Feeling repulsion at one’s body—in particular, for its seemingly too large shape, size, and weight.
- An acute and illogical fear of gaining weight or being fat that results in actions that undermine a healthy weight maintenance.
- Limiting one’s food intake so that a low and even unhealthy body weight is produced (when measured according to normal standards for one’s physical size, age, sex, and development).
The DSM-5 details bulimia nervosa with the following symptoms:
- Binges of eating wherein…
- One loses control of how much and what food is ingested during a certain time period.
- During that same period of time, ingesting more food that most people would or could consume under similar circumstances.
- Trying to compensate for the overeating through unhealthy and even dangerous means of weight loss. Examples include fasting too frequently and for too long, abusing medications such as diuretics and laxative, forcing oneself to vomit, and/or exercising too much.
- A self-image that is overwhelmed by one’s body image such that one’s personality, intellect, skills, and other identifying factors are ignored and downplayed.
Psychological Therapies for Eating Disorders
Holistic treatment for an eating disorder often involves a psychological and a physical component. Nutritionists and physicians often work with counselors and therapists to provide such extensive care. Within the psychological component of care, there are many options for treatment that a mental health professional can apply to each client, such as eating disorder therapy, depending upon their unique needs. Potential interventions include…
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) helped patients develop self-awareness of their feelings and experiences, especially how their thoughts can lead to unhealthy urges. This therapy focuses on helping individuals understand these impulses and redirected them toward actions that build their health.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) seeks to build coping mechanisms that allow clients to process painful experiences and emotions in a healthy way. Such coping mechanisms may include mindfulness and emotional regulation. The goal is to gain more control over one’s untrue and negative emotions and thoughts.
- Family Therapy involves a client’s family—potentially their spouse, parents, siblings, and more. The goal is to build maturity and nurture systemic change that can support an individual’s healing. It may be particularly helpful if family dysfunction is a contributing factor in the development of the eating disorder.
Treatment for Eating Disorders at Thriveworks Oakland, MI
If you are ready to meet with a mental health professional, the eating disorder therapists at Thriveworks Oakland are ready to meet with you. You do not have to battle an eating disorder alone. When you contact our office, it may be helpful to know that a real person will answer your call and help you make an appointment. Your first session may be within 24 hours of your call. We offer evening and weekend appointments, and we accept most insurance plans.
Let’s fight eating disorders together. Call Thriveworks Oakland Counseling today.