Eating disorders are genuine mental illnesses with often devastating physical effects. Eating disorders are characterized by severe changes in eating patterns, whether through starvation (as in anorexia) or binge eating, then purging (as in bulimia).
Eating disorders often co-occur with another psychiatric disorder. For example, half of all women diagnosed with an eating disorder also meet the criteria for severe depression.
Although eating disorders strike all ages and both genders, statistically women are much more likely to be affected by eating disorders. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, eating disorders affect some 24 million Americans.
Symptoms of Eating Disorders
Unlike many other mental health disorders, the symptoms of eating disorders can often be clearly seen from the outside. Extreme weight loss, refusal to eat, intense preoccupation with appearance, and distorted body image are all clues that you might be struggling with a real, diagnosable eating disorder.
Those are primary symptoms. Left untreated, symptoms of eating disorders may include yellowing teeth, brittle hair, dry skin, an arrested menstruation cycle, and even brain damage and other organ failure.
Causes of Eating Disorders
At first glance, eating disorders may appear to be solely about weight control and pre-occupation with appearance. However, the disorders are far more complex than that. Several emotional, environmental, sociological, and mental conditions can play a part in the development of an eating disorder.
Many people with eating disorders describe using their disorder as an attempt to control their emotions and difficulties they may be experiencing in life rather than just their physicality. Low self-esteem, cultural pressure to be “thin,” the feeling that life is “spinning out of control,” a history of physical or sexual abuse — the list of factors that can combine and contribute to the development of eating disorder is long and varied.
Eating Disorder Treatment
Treatment for an eating disorder should be a combination of therapy, physical assessments, and the help of a dietician to help heal destructive eating patterns. Group therapy as well as one-on-one time spent with a therapist to discuss the underlying emotional distress behind your disorder should supplement regular physical check-ups. Keeping a holistic approach in healing an eating disorder is important as an eating disorder is truly a body- and mind-fueled illness.
Although eating disorders are proven to be treatable, only about 10 percent of those with eating disorders seek treatment. But eating disorders that go untreated can be deadly. In fact, the mortality rate for eating disorders is higher than that of any other mental health disorder. Those with eating disorders have a death rate that is six times higher than those who don’t have eating disorders, with causes of death including suicide, starvation, and heart problems.
With treatment, Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders (ANRED) reports that around 60 percent of those with an eating disorder make a full recovery. Early intervention can improve the likelihood of treatment success.
Why Choose Clearview Women’s Center
Clearview Women’s Center is the ideal choice for beginning your journey of healing. Clearview Women’s Center residential treatment program is a safe, all-female environment free from the outside pressures on appearance. Our therapists and dietician are certified and have years of experience dealing with women from all walks of life.
We offer three unique treatment programs to fit anyone’s lifestyle. Our eating disorder treatment centers are located in beautiful West Los Angeles, Calif. Our eating disorder residential treatment program is the most intensive treatment option and can be most effective for those able to devote time in inpatient treatment.
Our outpatient and day treatment eating disorder programs are perfect for those serious about treatment and who already have a residence in the greater Los Angeles area. Whichever program works for you, we offer effective treatment of eating disorders for women in Los Angeles.
While we are not a primary eating disorder treatment center, we can successfully treat eating disorders that co-occur with another diagnosis, such as Borderline Personality Disorder.
Q: Why are statistics on eating disorders so varied?
A: While scientists are constantly researching the causes behind eating disorders and how to properly treat them, they are difficult disorders to study due to the tendency for those who suffer from them to be secretive about it. It is common for those with eating disorder to hide their changing bodies beneath heavy clothing and to “pretend” to eat.
Q: Are eating disorders hereditary?
A: According to the Eating Disorders Coalition, eating disorders are 50 percent to 80 percent genetic. Environmental causes contribute, such as cultural insistence on thinness or preoccupation with physical appearance.
Q: Can my relationship with food change?
A: Yes! With the skills learned through therapy, you can repair your relationship with food. For example, the Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills of mindfulness and self-soothing can help you work your way through the process of eating in a healthy way.