Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are widespread, particularly among young people, and can have devastating consequences. If you or your child has a problem with food or body image, Elizabeth Bullard, MD, Allison Foroobar, MD, and Brian Moore, MD, MPH at Carolina Wellness Psychiatry, PLLC, have extensive experience with the diagnosis and treatment of Eating Disorders. Call the office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.
An eating disorder is a mental health condition in which there is a severe disturbance in eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. Eating disorders are more common in women and generally begin during adolescence or young adulthood.
Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders are not a lifestyle choice, but rather are serious illnesses that can be fatal. Anorexia nervosa is the leading cause of mental health-related death in the United States.
Anorexia nervosa is marked by a distorted perception of body weight and body image and an intense fear of gaining weight. There is a perception of being overweight, even at the point of being severely underweight or emaciated. This inability to see actual appearance can lead to malnutrition and even starvation, and some people become suicidal.
People who have anorexia weigh themselves obsessively and restrict the amount they eat to a degree that they lack essential nutrients. They might exercise to excess as well in an effort to lose more weight, or start using laxatives.
Physical symptoms of anorexia that may develop over time include:
Untreated anorexia nervosa can lead to brain and heart damage, and at its extreme, multiple organ failure.
Bulimia nervosa is marked by binge eating sessions where large quantities of food are eaten over a short period of time. There is generally a feeling of lack of control during these episodes.
Following the binge eating sessions, there may be compensatory behaviors such as vomiting, use laxatives and diuretics, fasting, or excessive exercise.
Physical symptoms of bulimia nervosa develop over time and may include:
What is binge-eating disorder?
Binge-eating disorder is different from bulimia nervosa, in that episodes of binge-eating are not followed by vomiting, excessive exercise, or fasting. Binge-eating is the most common eating disorder in the US.
How are eating disorders treated?
Early diagnosis and treatment are essential in eating disorders, as this population has a higher risk of suicide and medical complications.
Eating disorders are generally treated with individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy, as well as nutritional counseling and medications. Severe eating disorders also require medical care and monitoring, and therefore hospitalization may be necessary when medical complications arise.
Your physician will complete a comprehensive assessment of your symptoms and determine your individualized care plan.
To learn more about treatments for eating disorders, visit Carolina Wellness Psychiatry, PLLC, for compassionate and effective care. Call today to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.