Eating Disorder Treatment in Florida
An eating disorder is defined as a serious preoccupation with eating, exercise, and body shape, which takes the form of an unhealthy obsession in a person’s life. While anorexia nervosa is the most well known in TV and media, there are many different types of eating disorders including bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and avoidant/restrictive intake disorder. If you feel that you may be struggling with an eating disorder, some of the signs you may experience include:
- Frequent dieting
- Constantly worrying about the nutrition content of food
- Restricting certain foods or food groups
- Feeling uncomfortable eating around other people
- Skipping meals
- Feeling that you need to burn off calories with exercise
- Unexplained gastrointestinal issues
- Using the bathroom right after a meal
- Hiding food
- Food rituals
- And more
Many people feel that they do not “fit” into the categories of a specific eating disorder, but may struggle with orthorexia, which may present as being obsessed with only eating “clean” foods, constantly dieting, and being afraid to eat certain foods. While orthorexia is not an official diagnosis, it can still cause the same emotional distress as any other eating disorder. Overall, an eating disorder functions as a coping mechanism to deal with other aspects of life, mainly by controlling food.
Many people struggling with an eating disorder also experience body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), in which you can’t stop thinking about perceived flaws in your appearance. Some of the signs of BDD include avoiding social situations, anxiety about others’ perception of you, attempting to hide flaws with makeup or clothes, constantly comparing your appearance to others, frequent grooming, skin picking etc. Studies show that many people with an eating disorder may also struggle with BDD and use food and exercise as a way to manipulate their body size.
Eating disorders are thought to affect 9% of women and 2% of men. This illness does not discriminate, and equally affects people of all weight, size, gender identity, sexuality and ethnicity. While many people assume that only younger women struggle with an eating disorder, we know that anyone can be affected, and body size is almost never an indicator of someone’s emotional or mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, these stigmas only cause more difficulty when seeking treatment for an eating disorder. As a result, many people tend to suffer in silence. However, it is imperative to ask for help if you find that you are worried about your relationship with food, body image, or exercise. Asking for help can help reduce your risk of complications down the road related to the eating disorder. Anorexia, for example, has the highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders. There is also a very strong link between addiction and eating disorders, and research shows that almost 50% of people struggling with an eating disorder are also abusing drugs or alcohol.
There are many risk factors that may contribute to a person developing an eating disorder, some of which include a history of anxiety or depression, family dynamics, societal pressures, and trauma. The field of eating disorder research has also identified several genetic factors that may contribute, and many studies show the interesting role that biology plays in this disease.
While we may never know the exact cause of an eating disorder, the treatment remains the same. Support by way of trained mental health professionals, dietitians, and medical staff is the best way to begin your journey of healing. Treatment depends on the type and severity of the eating disorder but includes a combination of therapy, nutrition education, and medical monitoring. Many people suffer in silence due to the overwhelming fear of asking for help, but recovery from an eating disorder is possible.