Celebrity culture seems inextricably tied to unhealthy body image and even eating disorders. It is debatable how much Hollywood has contributed to the problem, but it is clear that hit movies, like To the Bone, and stars who have opened up about their own struggle have sparked important social conversations. Elton John, Zosia Mamet, Kesha, Zayn Malik, Demi Lovato, Gabourey Sidibe, Jane Fonda, Russell Brand, and Lady Gaga have all spoken publicly about what it is like to fight anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders. They are just the tip of the iceberg: as many as 30 million Americans are fighting an eating disorder. And many are finding the hope and healing their body and their soul need.
“I am beginning to measure myself in strength, not pounds.
Sometimes in smiles.” —Laurie Halse Anderson
A number of factors can cause an eating disorder. Environmental factors, like cultural expectations about body image, can play a part. People often feel pressure to conform their body to random standards of beauty, and this pressure create an environment that is conducive for eating disorders. Childhood abuse, trauma, and family stress can also be causes of eating disorders. As people try to cope with psychological pain, they may gain control in any way they can, even in self-destructive ways. People can also have a genetic pre-disposition for an eating disorder. Their biology can raise their risk for this mental illness.
This multi-faceted illness often requires treatment that is multi-faceted. Because eating disorders attack people’s mind and body, physicians, nutritionists, and therapists often work together to formulate a treatment plan.
At Thriveworks Phoenix, our mental health professionals have helped many clients find the holistic treatment plans they need. We understand the risks of bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders, and we also understand the interventions that are available to those who suffer.
The Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders
When people recognize eating disorders for what they are—serious mental illnesses—they may be able to seek early treatment. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) outlines the symptoms for bulimia and anorexia.
The DSM-5 summarizes anorexia’s symptoms as the following:
- Feeling disgust for one’s own body.
- A self-perception that experiences one’s body as heavier and larger than it is.
- An intense fear of being fat or gaining weight along and actions that sabotage the maintenance of a healthy weight.
- Restricting food consumption to achieve and maintain an unhealthy and below normal body weight (as defined by standards for one’s sex, physical size, development, and age).
The DSM-5 summarizes bulimia’s symptoms as the following:
- Eating binges that include…
- The inability to regulate what and how much one eats during a specific period of time.
- Eating more, during the binge’s time period, than what other people could during a similar time period and under similar circumstances.
- Responding to the binge through utilizing unhealthy and dangerous means of weight loss. Examples may include (but are not limited to) forcing oneself to vomit, fasting for a longer than recommended period, exercising in extreme ways, misusing diuretics and laxatives.
- When one’s body dominates one’s self-image so that other attributes (like personality, skills, and intellect) are minimized or even ignored.
Possible Therapies for Eating Disorders
Eating disorder treatment almost always involves a psychological element. There are many options available that may bring psychological healing, and mental health professionals can usually help their clients find the treatment that best fits their symptoms. Possibilities include…
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) has the goal of equipping individuals to process past, painful trauma experiences by teaching them healthy emotional coping skills. For example, DBT may focus upon teaching clients skills they need for emotional regulation and mindfulness. Clients often gain more control over their negative thinking patterns and learn how to maximize true, positive thinking patterns.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has the goal of helping individuals develop self-awareness. Often, unhealthy urges and behaviors are rooted in un-recognized and un-processed feelings and experiences. Therapists can often lead clients through exercises that help them understand and redirect these urges. When clients become more self-aware, they can often redirect their own feelings and actions toward healthier behaviors.
- Family Therapy has the goal of addressing systemic issues that may need to change in order for the eating disorder to heal. Often, spouses, siblings, and parents may come in to participate in family therapy. Together, the family looks at how they can nurture systemic growth and build emotional maturity that can sustain healing from the eating disorder. In particular, this therapy is most effective with family dysfunction is a root cause of the eating disorder.
Scheduling an Appointment at Thriveworks Phoenix, AZ for an Eating Disorder
If you are fighting an eating disorder, know that you do not have to fight alone. The therapists and counselors at Thriveworks Phoenix have helped many people find the holistic treatment they need to heal from bulimia, anorexia, or another eating disorder. When you are ready to reach out for help, we are ready to meet with you.
When you call Thriveworks Phoenix, a scheduling specialist will answer your call—not a voicemail. You may have your first appointment within 24 hours. Weekend and evening sessions are available because we know that not everyone can make an appointment during business hours. We also accept many insurance plans.
Let’s work together. Call Thriveworks Phoenix today.