Eating Disorders

Most of our therapists have extensive experience working with eating disorders.  We define eating disorders as any disturbance in eating behaviors.  It could mean eating too much, not eating enough or any extremely unhealthy eating behavior, like binging and purging or habitually overeating.

The two types of eating disorder which are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMIV) are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia.

Anorexia Nervosa is most often found in females and is diagnosed when a person is unable to maintain a weight of at least 85% of normal weight for their age and height.  Usually people suffering from Anorexia Nervosa see themselves as overweight even when they are severely underweight.  Research shows that often individuals suffering from Anorexia Nervosa come from families who are over controlling and under nurturing.  There could be a biological component as well.

The first goal of treatment is to restore basic health.  Then, through cognitive behavioral therapy, the individual is able to find other ways to fulfill their needs for control and to better understand the underlying reasons for their distorted body image, while maintaining new healthy eating patterns.  Because Anorexia is so deadly if not treated in a timely fashion, severely advanced cases may require inpatient treatment or hospitalization.  In the earlier stages, however, it is very treatable in therapy.

Bulimia Nervosa is the diagnosis when a person binges (eats large amounts of food) and then purges by vomiting, using laxatives, fasting or exercising excessively.  Research shows that often individuals suffering from Bulimia Nervosa come from families who are over controlling and under nurturing.  There could be a biological component as well.  Research also shows a correlation between sexual abuse survivors and Bulimia.

The first goal of treatment is to restore basic health.  Then, through cognitive behavioral therapy, the individual is able to better understand the underlying reasons for their behavior, while maintaining new healthy eating patterns.  Bulimia is very treatable in therapy.  Individuals suffering from Bulimia are generally very aware of their unhealthy behavior and very willing to get help, which makes the prognosis good.

Overeating, without purging, is closer to addiction and would be treated much more like substance abuse, food being the substance of choice in this case.