The primary symptom of anorexia is an obsessive preoccupation with weight loss and the entire process of eating.
It’s common for individuals struggling with anorexia to refuse eating or restrict themselves to a limited caloric intake or repertoire of foods. They may also engage in compulsive exercising and weigh themselves frequently, to the point of obsession. These behaviors can result in significant weight loss, absent or irregular menstruation, vitamin/mineral deficiency, and hair loss. Additionally, it places these individuals at risk of organ failure. Individuals can maintain what appears to be a “normal” weight while still engaging in anorexic behaviors and are still recommended to receive treatment for their symptoms.
Bulimia is characterized by a cycle of binging, or consuming large amounts of food in one sitting, followed by purging. A diagnosis of Bulimia Nervosa is typically distinguished from Anorexia Nervosa by an absence of restrictive food intake in the former.
Individuals with Bulimia may maintain a normal weight despite their bingeing, and often suffer from poor body image and self-esteem. Behavior patterns may include other harmful activities such as periods of fasting, overuse of laxatives or diet pills, and compulsive exercise.
Individuals with bulimia tend to be discreet and hide their behavior from family members and loved ones.
Both Anorexia and Bulimia often have features of perfectionism, obsessiveness, and are often accompanied by depression and/or anxiety.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is often characterized by an individual consuming a large amount of food with limited ability to stop or moderate, even after a sense of being ‘full.’ Individuals with BED may also consume food to the point of illness or physical incapacitation. A ‘binge’ is distinct from an instance of overeating. Bingeing refers to an episode in which an individual eats more than an average person would consume in a single sitting or distinct period of time. BED is distinct from Bulimia Nervosa due to an absence of purging behavior.
OSFED (Other Specific Feeding or Eating Disorder)
OSFED is a category reserved for individuals who struggle with unhealthy patterns of eating but may not meet the specific requirements for any other disorder. OSFED can encompass a range of symptoms including fasting, unhealthy use of laxatives, compulsive exercise, feelings of body dysmorphia, and occasional purging. Purging involves a number of unhealthy behaviors, including actions that manipulate body shape or induce weight loss, such as self-induced vomiting.
The Different Causes of Eating Disorders
While the specific causes of eating disorders vary from person to person, there are many known factors that may influence the development of an eating disorder. People are more likely to develop an eating disorder if a member of their family has one. Eating disorders can also be triggered by significant life transitions such as but not limited to a career change, illness, family stress, or geographic relocations.
Arguably, pervasive diet culture and body image pressure play a significant role in diminishing self-esteem and creating an atmosphere for eating disorders to flourish. Regardless of the causes, eating disorders should be taken seriously as they are can significantly impact one’s quality of life. We can help.
Talk to a Professional Therapist In Chicago
Recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Obtaining medical care for any eating disorder is imperative, and psychotherapy is a crucial component to establishing and maintaining recovery
At Symmetry Counseling, we can assist you with:
- Engaging with medical professionals to obtain physiological care, including nutritional counseling.
- Addressing underlying psychological roots of the eating disorder, including trauma.
- Identifying unhealthy behaviors and developing new, adaptive patterns.
- Assessing and treating the presence of co-occurring mood and substance use disorders.
At Symmetry Counseling, we’re here to help you. Contact us today to learn more about our counseling services, and to arrange an appointment with one of our compassionate therapists in Chicago.