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Would You Know When You’ve Gone Too Far?

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. But people experience symptoms of mental illnesses differently—and some engage in potentially dangerous or risky behaviors to avoid or cover up symptoms of a potential mental health problem.

Sometimes people—especially young people—struggling with mental health concerns develop habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems themselves.

Activities like compulsive sex, recreational drug use, obsessive internet use, excessive spending, or disordered exercise patterns can all be behaviors that can disrupt someone’s mental health and potentially lead them down a path towards crisis.

This May is Mental Health Month; Empowerment Treatment & Counseling is raising awareness of Risky Business (#riskybusiness). The campaign is meant to educate and inform individuals dealing with a mental health concern understand that some behaviors and habits can be detrimental to recovery—or even mask a deeper issue—but that seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of.

Take the interactive quiz here and tell us when you think behaviors or habits go from being acceptable to unhealthy.

Empowerment Treatment & Counseling wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, that recovery is always the goal, and that even if you or someone you love are engaging in risky behavior, there is help. It is important to understand early symptoms of mental illness and know when certain behaviors are potentially signs of something more.

We need to speak up early and educate people about risky behavior and its connection to mental illness—and do so in a compassionate, judgement-free way.

When we engage in prevention and early identification, we can help reduce the burden of mental illness by identifying symptoms and warning signs early—and provide effective treatment Before Stage 4.

So, let’s talk about what is and is not risky business. Let’s understand where it’s important to draw the line, so that we can address mental illness B4Stage4, and help others on the road to recovery. For more information, visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may.

2017-05-09T20:39:01+00:00 May 9th, 2017|0 Comments

Phoenix Eating Disorder Support Group

Are you an adult struggling with Anorexia? Bulimia? Binge eating disorder?
Are you looking for a group therapy program to support your recovery?
Are you a therapist who has a client who could use a little extra support in their recovery?

Working on recovery on your own can be more than frustrating. You don’t have to do it alone.  Come connect with others who share your struggles, enhance your recovery process and start moving toward healing and wellness.

Led by therapists and registered dietitians who are experienced in supporting recovery from eating disorders, this intimate, adults only group will offer a safe space for connection, self-exploration, and will provide opportunity for therapy and support. Topics will include nutritional strategies, emotional wellness and mindful movement practice.

Group begins Monday May 15, 2017 from 6:00-7:30 and runs for 6 weeks.  A new group will begin every 6 weeks.

The cost is $45 per week. If payment for the entire program is made on or before May 15, pay only $240 (a savings of $30!)

Please call our office to register today as space is limited! 623.810.1663

2017-05-08T16:55:22+00:00 May 8th, 2017|0 Comments

Depression

Have you ever felt sad, lonely, anxious, irritable or lack motivation?   At some point we all feel these emotions.  These feelings are normal reactions to certain life stressors such as the loss of a loved one, stress, relational issues, grief and etc.  Most of the time during and after these situations a person is able to go through their life functionally or bounce back from the blues.  But what if we are not able to bounce back?  What if we get stuck in this suffering?  If you are not able to bounce back then you may be suffering from depression.  It is important to identify if we are having a normal response to a situation or if we in fact are suffering from depression.

Often those suffering from depression feel empty, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, irritable and have body and thought process changes which affect their ability to function.  There are many types of depressive disorders including disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, substance/ medication induced depressive disorder, depressive disorder due to another medical condition, other specified depressive disorder, and underspecified depressive disorder.

Common Symptoms:

  • Sadness, Depressed Mood, Feeling Lonely
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of Hopelessness
  • Weight Loss or Gain Without Dieting
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Inability or Excessive Sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Lack of Interest in Activities
  • Difficulty Concentrating

How common is depression?  According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, in 2014 15.7 million adults had at least one major depressive disorder.  1 in 10 American at one point in their life will suffer from clinical depression but sadly, it’s not uncommon for those suffering not to seek or receive treatment;  80% of those suffering from clinical depression will not receive treatment.

In some cases depression can be attributed to a chemical imbalance in the brain, in which case medical care would be used in conjunction with therapy. In order to determine if you are suffering from depression or a depressive disorder it is important that you seek consultation from a licensed clinician.   This therapist will be able to determine which type of depressive disorder the client is suffering from, and therefore embark on the best path to aid them in treatment and healing.

The good news?  There is help for people suffering from depression. If you or a loved on is suffering from depression it is important to tell you doctor and seek care from a licensed therapist or psychiatrist. You can do something about it and break the silence of your suffering.

Rachel Peru is a clinical intern who offers counseling services here at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling Center while she completes her Masters degree in Professional Counseling at Grand Canyon University.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  (623) 810-1663

References:

  • Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved April 06, 2017, from https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression
  • Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders DSM-5. (2013). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
2017-04-17T23:08:11+00:00 April 17th, 2017|0 Comments

Bulimia Nervosa: Breaking the Binge-Purge Eating Disorder Cycle

Bulimia is an eating disorder that consists of periods of excessive overeating (binge) followed by purging. Binge eating occurs in several different eating disorders, for instance Binge Eating Disorder, however Bulimia Nervosa differs from binge eating disorder in that bulimia is followed by a method of purging.

Most are familiar with Bulimia as a binge-purge cycle, however vomiting is not the only method of “purging.” It is not uncommon for people with bulimia to attempt to manage or offset their food consumption with excessive exercise, laxatives, restricting or a combination of these methods as an alternative to purging.  Another scary form of purging for those who also suffer from Type 1 Diabetes is to manipulate insulin levels in order to manage weight, a terrifying and life-threatening tactic!

Bulimia nervosa typically follows a cycle of food restriction, binge and purge.  Here’s a little more about these two cycles:

Restriction:   Restriction or deprivation is an important element of the dangerous binge-purge cycle. This is because dieting, food restriction or the threat of starvation triggers us to binge eat. It is the result of starvation dating back to our ancestors. it was our body’s normal response to starvation.

Binge:  Individuals with binge eating disorder and bulimia tend to hide their excessive food intake. As we discussed on a previous blog article, it is important to note that a “binge” episode is not clearly defined by caloric intake;  some professionals may describe it as the consumption of an unusual amount of food intake in one sitting or within a 2 hour time period.  However in order to meet the diagnostic criteria for a true eating disorder, the binge episodes go beyond the amount of calories or food items consumed; the binge episodes are distressing and those suffering from this disorder often say they feel a lack of control. In an article on PsychCentral, Dr. Toby Goldsmith explains, “once a binge begins, it is very difficult to interrupt.” It is not uncommon for people to describe being lost in a “trance” during their binge episodes. Binge episodes can be planned or unplanned and these episodes are typically accompanied by mood changes before, during and after.

While there are a variety of individual triggers that may lead to a binge episode, some of the more common triggers are:

  • uncomfortable mood states
  • interpersonal stress
  • disrupted hunger/fullness cues (often stemming from dietary restriction)
  • negative feelings related to body image

Purge:  Following a binge, it isn’t uncommon for people suffering from bulimia nervosa to feel immense guilt or shame. In some cases, even if the type or quantity of food is what most would consider normal, a person with and eating disorder may attach guilt or shame to certain food choices.  This often leads to purging, which can be done by using laxatives, exercise, vomiting or diuretics, each of which carry significant dangers when misused.

After a binge, many report that purging brings back a momentary feeling of control to their lives. Some individuals have described the act of purging as momentarily euphoric, distracting them from the real issues at hand. Bulimia has also been compared to drug addiction because of the the temporary release of endorphins, or feel-good hormones.

Dangers

Managing weight through these methods has incredibly detrimental effects on the body. Frequent binge/purge cycles can place incredible stress on the body. The stress of this cycle can lead to

  • arrhythmia
  • electrolyte imbalance
  • heart attack
  • inflammation, tears or rupture of the esophagus
  • gastroparesis or chronic gastric reflux.
  • mouth sores
  • degradation of the gums and teeth
  • puffy cheeks or jaws come from swollen salivary glands
  • damage to the kidneys
  • damage to the intestines can cause bloating, diarrhea, or constipation
  • anemia
  • ruptured vessels in the eyes due to the force of vomiting

It is very important to know that these health issues do not always disappear once you have overcome the illness; conditions such as gastroparesis can last for years after the cessation of binge-purge behaviors and the damage to the gastrointestinal system can last for a lifetime.

It is important to understand bulimia nervosa is more than just about food; it is about overwhelming emotions, and feelings of lack of control over the sufferer’s life. This sense of lack of control triggers the binge-purge cycle which is difficult to stop without professional help.  The good news?  There is help available!

Sabrina Landa is a clinical intern who offers counseling services here at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling Center while she completes her Masters degree in Professional Counseling at Grand Canyon University.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  (623) 810-1663

References

2017-03-29T20:48:38+00:00 April 7th, 2017|0 Comments

Eating Disorder Recovery & Families

Individuals living with an eating disorder (ED) are not the only ones affected by their ED. The family of the affected individual can also suffer greatly while navigating their loved one’s illness. The often devastating effects of the illness can reverberate throughout a family and have a tremendous impact on the people who love the individual.

What can family members do to move through this time in healthy ways?

  • Get support for yourself – Find a therapist, practice self-care regularly, and do not blame yourself for your loved one’s eating disorder. Mindfulness and meditation may help you find calm moments each day, create space in your thoughts, and also keep you present in each moment.
  • In your mind, separate your loved one from his or her ED. Your loved one is not their eating disorder. They each have unique personalities and behaviors, and can be easily identified. This disconnection of the two allows space for love, compassion, hope and patience for your loved one and his/her recovery to be felt and shared, while also granting freedom for the intense, negative emotions that you feel toward the eating disorder.

Family members have an opportunity to play a unique and significant role in their loved one’s recovery. However, this can be daunting task, especially at the beginning.

What can family members do to best support their loved one in recovery?

  • Help your loved one find a treatment team that is experienced in eating disorders. This team should include, at minimum, a licensed counselor with eating disorder experience and registered dietitian. A medical doctor and possibly a psychiatrist may be helpful and/or necessary as well. Health professionals that are not properly trained in eating disorders can do more harm than good, even though they may have the best intentions. Interviewing the professional in advance can be a beneficial first step.
  • Educate yourself – There are many resources available to you such as the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), and quite a few good books you can use as resources (“Life Without Ed” by Jenni Schaefer is a great place to start). These can help you begin to understand what your loved one is going through with his or her eating disorder and how you can best support them. Attend any family support groups that your loved one’s treatment facility offers – these can be a huge asset, both as support for yourself and as education.

Above all else, hold tight onto HOPE. Don’t give up. There may be bad days. There may be horrific days. There will also be days full of life, light and goodness. Watch for them; be on the lookout. Note them in your gratitude journal.

Amanda Going has personally supported a loved one with an eating disorder and is the amazing Office Manager at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling Center.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  (623) 810-1663

2017-03-31T18:26:52+00:00 April 5th, 2017|0 Comments

Binge Eating Disorder: More Than Emotional Eating

From time to time we all overeat, and many of us will occasionally engage in “emotional eating.”  But what’s the difference between occasionally adding that extra serving of yummy potatoes to our plate after we’re full or eating that handful of M&Ms when we’re stressed and a legit eating disorder?

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) describes Binge Eating Disorder (BED) as recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food within a short period of time. It is important to understand that a binge is not characterized by caloric amount but rather,  by the consumption of food significantly larger then what most people would eat under similar circumstances and period. There is also the emotional component with a binge, like most eating disorders, there is a sense of lack of control during the episode, often followed by shame, distress or guilt.

In order to diagnose BED and to distinguish it from other forms of eating disorders, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) adds a few more qualifiers to help determine the correct diagnosis such as  level of distress over bingeing episodes, loss of control over amount of eatin, frequency of the bingeing episodes of at least once weekly for at least three months,  as well as things like eating until feeling uncomfortably full, eating more rapidly than normal (i.e. two hour period), feeling depressed, guilty, or disgusted with oneself after overeating, eating alone because of embarrassment associated with how much one is eating, and eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry

A few interesting statistics about binge eating disorder:

  • 40% of those with BED are male
  • 3 out of 10 individuals looking for weight loss treatment show signs of BED
  • Research estimates that only 28.4% of people with BED are receiving treatment for the disorder
  • eating disorder can affect individuals at any age, for BED it often begins in the late teens or early 20’s.
  • BED is actually more common than Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa, with data revealing that about 5 million women and 3 million men in the United States struggle with this disorder

What tips the scales from the occasional overeating episode into truly disordered eating?  Studies have shown that many factors can play a role in the development of BED. Among those factors may be a family history of eating disorders, psychological issues such as feeling negative about yourself, your skills and accomplishments (triggers for a binge episode can include but are not limited to poor body image, stress, boredom and food), or a a history of dieting sometimes dating back into childhood.

Complications

Binge Eating disorder can lead to obesity which could create a host of health issues and medical conditions related to obesity (joint problems, heart disease, sleep-related breathing disorders etc).  It can also influence quality life by leading to social isolation, problems at work, depression, anxiety, substance use, feeling bad about yourself, and a poor quality of life.

The good news?

Binge eating disorder is treatable. Here at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling Center in Phoenix/Glendale Arizona, clients work with experienced, compassionate therapists and registered dietitians to reduce binges and address the underlying emotional and psychological components that lead to the binging.  We offer a wholistic approach to eating disorder recovery which includes the dietetic management and education component, individual counseling and therapy, as well as Intensive Outpatient (IOP) group therapy for both adults and adolescents.

Sabrina Landa is a clinical intern who offers counseling services here at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling Center while she completes her Masters degree in Professional Counseling at Grand Canyon University.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  (623) 810-1663

References:

  • Mayo Clinic Staff Print. (2016, February 09). Treatment.  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/binge-eating-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20182948
  • National Eating Disorder Association. (n.d.). Overview and Statistics. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/binge-eating-disorder
  • National Institute of Mental Health.  “Eating Disorders Among Adults – Binge Eating Disorders”.  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1EAT_ADULT_RB.shtml
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) http://www.dsm5.org
2017-03-29T16:45:15+00:00 April 1st, 2017|0 Comments

No More Suffering In Silence: Eating Disorder Treatment in Phoenix Arizona

It’s one thing to suffer from an eating disorder but it’s a whole other thing to admit you are living with an eating disorder. Many men and women go throughout their lives battling an eating disorder on their own. Eating disorders effect people of all ethnicities, races, social and cultural backgrounds and genders but it’s not uncommon if someone doesn’t fit the social stereotype often associated with eating disorders, they’ll keep their struggles to themselves. And this is one of the most dangerous and sad aspects of eating disorders:  many who have eating disorders suffer quietly on their own.  Silence is the number one reason people don’t receive treatment for their eating disorders.

If you or a loved one is suffering in silence with your eating disorder you are not alone.  Many people suffer for extended periods of time because they do not know what to say, where to go to, who to trust and having extreme feelings of shame and fear. One of the hardest and most rewarding things that can be done is to open up and talk to someone about the problem.  In doing so, you’re taking a step in the right direction admitting that the eating disorder is damaging your life and that you need help.  The earlier someone receives treatment the better, but any time is the right time to reach out, receive treatment and find hope and healing.

“Who can I talk to or where do I begin?”

Here are some ideas who you can open up to or places you can start:

  • Parent or Guardian
  • Spouse
  • Close Friend or Family Member
  • Doctor or Healthcare Provider
  • Therapist
  • Nutritionist
  • Teacher or Professor
  • Empowerment Treatment and Counseling
  • NEDA Hotline

It is important to understand that while it’s a great first step, family members, coworkers and friends are probably not equipped to help you heal completely.  They may be an integral part of your healing process and a huge support system, but it is essential to receive treatment from an experienced therapist who specializes in eating disorders or a facility specializing in eating disorders treatment.

Taking these first steps can be very difficult and painful so it is important to practice kindness towards yourself during this process.  You are taking a step in the right direction for a life long recovery from your eating disorder.  Hope and healing is possible for all!

Rachel Peru is a clinical intern who offers counseling services here at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling Center while she completes her Masters degree in Professional Counseling at Grand Canyon University.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  (623) 810-1663

Reference:

  • The Silent Suffering of Eating Disorders. (n.d.).  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/matter-tru
2017-03-30T16:08:49+00:00 March 30th, 2017|0 Comments

Bringing Mindfulness Into The Workplace

When we spend too much of our energy thinking about the past or the future, it’s easy to slip into mood patterns that get in the way of contentment and joy.  Too much worrying about what might happen in the future can create feelings of anxiety, and too much dwelling on the past can lead to feelings of depression. The practice of mindfulness is one of staying present in the moment by focusing on immediate sensory cues such as what we see, hear, taste, and feel right now.  The practice of mindfulness may also include exploring your currently state of mind by noticing what you are thinking and feeling emotionally, right now.  A practice of mindfulness is a powerful tool used by therapists in the fields of trauma and eating disorders (among other specialty focuses) to help individuals develop powerful insights and break free of the chains of anxiety and depression, and there’s growing research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain!

Our team of competent, compassionate therapists in Glendale Arizona regularly help people learn to use a practice of mindfulness to overcome a variety of issues in their personal lives, but what about while at work?  Since many of us spend a considerable amount of time every week in a work environment, wouldn’t it make sense to bring mindfulness into the workplace?

Global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh says we can take to bring mindfulness to our work with powerful results!  Here are 15 things, taken from an article which originally appeared in The Huffington Post, you can do to bring mindfulness into your workplace:

  1. Start your day with 10 minutes of sitting in meditation.
  2. Take the time to sit down and enjoy eating breakfast at home.
  3. Remind yourself every day of your gratitude for being alive and having 24 brand-new hours to live.
  4. Try not to divide your time into “my time” and “work.” All time can be your own time if you stay in the present moment and keep in touch with what’s happening in your body and mind. There’s no reason why your time at work should be any less pleasant than your time anywhere else.
  5. Resist the urge to make calls on your cell phone while on your way to and from work, or on your way to appointments. Allow yourself this time to just be with yourself, with nature and with the world around you.
  6. Arrange or find a breathing area at work where you can go to calm down, stop and have a rest. Take regular breathing breaks to come back to your body and to bring your thoughts back to the present.
  7. At lunchtime, eat only your food and not your fears or worries. Don’t eat lunch at your desk. Change environments. Go for a walk.
  8. If you enjoy tea, make a ritual out of drinking it. Stop work and look deeply into your tea to “see” everything that went into making it: the clouds and the rain, the tea plantations and the workers harvesting the tea.
  9. Before going to a meeting, visualize someone very peaceful, mindful and skillful being with you, even if only imaginally. Take refuge in having this person “there with you” to help stay calm and peaceful.
  10. If you feel anger or irritation, refrain from saying or doing anything straight away. Come back to your breathing and follow your in- and out-breath until you’ve calmed down.
  11. Practice looking at your boss, your superiors, your colleagues or your subordinates as your allies and not as your enemies. Recognize that working collaboratively brings more satisfaction and joy than working alone. Know that the success and happiness of everyone is your own success.
  12. Express your gratitude and appreciation to your colleagues regularly for their positive qualities. This will transform the whole work environment, making it much more harmonious and pleasant for everyone.
  13. Try to relax and restore yourself before going home so you don’t bring accumulated negative energy or frustration home with you.
  14. Take some time to relax and come back to yourself when you get home before starting on household chores. Recognize that multitasking means you’re never fully present for any one thing. Do one thing at a time and give it your full attention.
  15. At the end of the day, keep a journal of all the good things that happened in your day. Water your seeds of joy and gratitude regularly so they can grow.

Kimberly Mahr is a licensed clinical therapist working in Phoenix, Arizona who specializes in working with people suffering from mood challenges, grief, relationship issues, eating disorders, trauma, and more.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  (623) 810-1663

 

2017-03-29T14:47:40+00:00 March 29th, 2017|0 Comments

Is Group Therapy For You?

In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, the popular boy band of the 90’s revealed that their secret to staying together for the past two decades has been group therapy, describing it as “a safe place for us to communicate” –McLean

Considering the crazy nature of the entertainment world, group therapy must work if it has been able to keep the boy band going for the past 20 years.

Some individuals carry a belief that group therapy (or therapy in general) is for people with psychological disorders or “serious” issues, but truthfully, everyone can benefit from group therapy. The important factor is participating in the right group at the right time. For instance an acute crisis is not often the best time to  a self-improvement group because your needs will be greater then what can be offered in group therapy.

Group therapy sessions are generally led by one or two counselors and typically meet once or twice a week. Although it may sound intimating to share your feelings and experiences with other strangers in a group setting, group therapy can create a surprisingly helpful support network. In group therapy, while sharing their experiences, thoughts, and feelings, members can exchange ideas and insights that might help you in your situation.  Another possible benefit of group therapy is that by listening to other group members’ issues, it may help you put your situation or problems into perspective. Group therapy can provide an opportunity to hear how others overcame their challenges and hearing these success stories may motivate or open up new strategies and perspectives for you to propel you forward on your goals. In addition, sharing your own story in a safe, supportive environment can be very meaningful and healing for you and others.

Therapy groups vary in length, frequency of meeting, and overall duration of the course of the gatherings. They may be open groups, meaning people add to or leave the group on a flexible schedule based on their needs, or they may be closed groups that begin and end with the same participants from start to finish. Depending on the type of group therapy,  different therapeutic techniques may be used such as psychodrama, art therapy, play therapy, or dialectical behavior therapy, just to name a few.

Sabrina Landa is a clinical counseling intern at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling.  She is currently completing her studies at Grand Canyon University for her Master’s in Professional Counseling.

If you’re curious how group therapy might help you achieve your health and wellness goals, feel free to reach out to our competent and caring team of therapists in our Glendale, Arizona office. We have lots of cumulative experience in facilitating group therapy and have several groups that may be a fit for you depending on your needs.  (623) 810-1663

 

2017-03-22T21:42:55+00:00 March 22nd, 2017|0 Comments

Dying To Be Thin: Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a disease in which individuals severely restrict their energy intake.  This leads to significant low body weight in context to the person’s age, development trajectory, sex and physical health. Those diagnosed typically have an intense fear of gaining weight.  They may also have a disturbance in the way their body is shaped along with denial of the seriousness of the diagnosis or medical consequences. Men or women suffering from anorexia may find that it is difficult to maintain the appropriate weight for their age and height.  Anorexia affects men and women of all ages and some individuals may not simply restrict their intake; they may purge, use laxatives, manipulate prescribed medicines, or exercise excessively as their primary mode of restriction and compensation.

According to NEDA, anorexia can affect people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races, and ethnicities.   There is evidence the people have suffered from anorexia for thousands of years all over the world.   Anorexia nervosa is the third most common chronic disease after asthma and diabetes. Often the disorder occurs in adults and adolescents but diagnosis is increasing in elderly populations.  It is important to remember that extremely low body fat percentages aren’t the only indicator for diagnosis. Some clients may even appear be of average size or even overweight.

Those suffering from the most common forms of anorexia tend to be severely underweight or malnourished, which can lead to many health complications.  Not only are they suffering on the outside, but there is also usually severe internal damage occurring as well. Some of the hidden internal damage attributable to anorexia nervosa can be brain shrinkage due to malnourishment and over time, the body effectively begins to “eat itself” due to the extreme and often extended states of starvation.Generally, the health risks of anorexia become more severe as the disorder progresses.  Other possible consequences include:

  • Development of heart conditions
  • Impairment of blood sugar management including the possibility of Diabetes
  • Loss of bone mass
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Osteoporosis
  • Insomnia
  • Anemia
  • Infertility

There are many red flags to help identify those who may be suffering from anorexia nervosa.  Below are some indications:

  • Obsession with fat and calorie contents
  • Feeling cold most of the time due to lack of fat on organs
  • Continual dieting even though the person is underweight
  • Amenorrhea which is an absence 3 consecutive menstrual cycles
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Brittle nails
  • Becoming isolated or withdrawn from social situations especially around food
  • Ritualistic eating patterns
  • Excessive exercise
  • Obsession with body weight and looks
  • Avoidance of eating

Anorexia is a deadly disease.  It has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric conditions and can destroy not only a person’s body but it also affects their mind, body and spirit. Even though the disorder can be deadly there is hope!  Awareness of eating disorders and a body positive movement is growing nationwide.

Those suffering have a variety of treatment options based on the severity of their symptoms and current functioning: inpatient hospitalization, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and outpatient treatment, and many insurance carriers will cover therapy and treatment for eating disorders. Due to the complexity of the disorder, it is critical individuals suffering from anorexia be treated by qualified, experienced counselors and treatment teams specializing in eating disorders.

Rachel Peru is a clinical intern in the process of completing her Masters in Professional Counseling at Grand Canyon University.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  (623) 810-1663

2017-03-22T21:39:54+00:00 March 15th, 2017|0 Comments