Eating disorders are on a continuum of severity from mild to sometimes fatal illnesses. Regardless of the medical severity, eating disorders create misery, self-doubt, depression, anxiety, obsessions and a distorted body image that impacts identity and self-esteem. An eating disorder can absorb your thoughts, making it difficult to concentrate at school or work or enjoy your relationships or your life. At Spencer Psychology, we understand the impact this can have, and we have treatment to help.
Telehealth Eating Disorder Therapy
Eating Disorders can be treated effectively through telehealth with most of the same techniques used in in-person. An added benefit of telehealth is being able to more easily involve the family members (who may or may not be in the same household), as treatment frequently focuses on family issues as well as disturbed eating patterns. Telehealth also allows for easier coordination of the treatment team often needed for clients (nutritionist, psychiatrist and therapist), as well as the ability to follow the client when the client is in other stressful locations.
Clients with significant body image distortions sometimes prefer telehealth as it allows them to keep body parts off camera or even keep their face in some shadow during early treatment when feeling especially self-conscious of their appearance.
Our Eating Disorders Therapist
Mia’s Approach: Mia Morrison works with mild to moderate eating disorders. Mia is warm, skilled and compassionate. She uses primarily interpersonal and cognitive behavioral approaches during treatment, but the complexities of eating disorders also require flexibility and creativity in finding a personalized, well-structured and strategic approach. Mia believes treatment options must be intentional and designed to meet the needs of the individual. The effort is to treat the person, not just the symptoms.
Mia is very aware of the complexities of not only treating eating disorders, but also living with one. She struggled with an eating disorder herself for sixteen years of her life and is passionate about helping others through the journey. She comments that with treatment, you get a fair shot at living life to its full potential.
Mia likes this blog.
The most common eating disorders include binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa.
- Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by recurrent binge eating episodes during which a person feels a loss of control and distress over the eating. Unlike bulimia, binge eating episodes are not followed by purging, excessive exercise or fasting. As a result, people with binge eating disorder often are overweight. Some consequences include high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and gall bladder disease.
- Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by binge eating (eating large amounts of food in a short time, along with the sense of a loss of control) followed by behavior that compensates in some way for the extra calories. Typically, this is purging (vomiting, using laxatives, or diuretics), fasting, and/or over-exercise. People with bulimia often fall within a normal weight range, but believe they are overweight, or are afraid they will gain weight. They are intensely unhappy with their body size and shape. Bulimia can also cause teeth and gum problems from purging, irritation or even rupture of the esophagus, and abuse of laxatives, diuretics and diet pills.
- Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by a person’s relentless pursuit of being thin. Anorexia is a very dangerous condition where someone can starve to death, or have significant health implications from malnutrition. People with anorexia have a distorted body image, and do not see themselves as too thin. Anorexia is the most likely mental health disorder to result in death. It can also cause heart disease, hormonal changes, imbalances in minerals and electrolytes, bone loss, loss of fertility, brain and nerve damages, seizures, loss of feeling, blood disorders and digestive issues.
What to Expect in Treatment
Clients will start with an online assessment of symptoms when they enroll with us. Mia will then do an intake specific to eating disorders, but also in the context of other symptoms (such as depression, trauma history, anxiety, etc.).
Mia uses a team approach, and clients are required to also see a nutritionist and sometimes a medical provider as well. Once the assessment is complete, you will begin weekly (or sometimes biweekly) treatment.
- Medical providers: Typically, medical providers will do routine medical exams, request blood and urine tests, or potentially could ask for an electrocardiogram to identify any problems with your heart (cardiac issues can occur with eating disorders).
- Nutritional support: Working with a dietician or nutritionist specializing in eating disorders is often an integral piece for many individuals struggling with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are both all about the food, and have nothing to do with food. The thoughts, and behaviors of someone suffering with eating disorders are centered around food playing a key role as an unhealthy coping mechanism. Unlike other unhealthy coping mechanism such as alcohol or drugs, a person can abstain while they learn healthy coping strategies. Eating disorders are unique in that a person suffering from an eating disorder is challenged with food on a daily basis, and must continue to eat and to deal with being constantly surrounded by food at most social interactions and family activities.
- One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia
- Two to three in 100 American women suffers from bulimia
- Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder
- An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males
- 5 – 10% of people with anorexia die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover.
- Treatment is essential to recovery, but only 1 in 10 people with eating disorders receive treatment
- Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents
- Rates of minorities with eating disorders are similar to those of white women