Counseling for Eating Disorders in San Diego

Eating Disorders continue to plague Western civilization as the “ideal” body continuously becomes smaller and smaller. Men and women of all ages are striving to have the “perfect body”, with a significant percentage taking extreme measures such as fasting, excessive exercising, and other purging behaviors in a desperate attempt to control their weight. What may start out as a seemingly harmless diet can quickly become an obsession with weight and body shape, and eventually take the form of a full-blown eating disorder such as Bulimia Nervosa (BN), Binge-Eating Disorder (BED), and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). The societal pressures to obtain the unrealistic, unattainable “perfect” standard are making eating disorders a more prevalent diagnosis in the mental health field nowadays, affecting individuals as young as 6 years old. While eating disorders traditionally affect more females than males, we are now also seeing a rapid increase in the number of males seeking treatment for extreme bodily dissatisfaction and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) as well as other forms of eating disorders.The notion that eating disorders are uncommon psychological disorders is a myth. In fact, approximately 8 million Americans are affected by some type of eating disorder and about half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder (South Carolina Department of Mental Health, 2006). If you live in the San Diego area and think you may be suffering from an eating disorder or a body image disturbance, please give my office a call today. As a licensed Social Worker and Counselor, I can offer you counseling for your eating disorder and help you reclaim your life that was once free of the tight hold food and body image has over it.

About Bulimia Nervosa (BN):

Bulimia Nervosa (BN) is one type of eating disorder that is characterized by a cycle of binge eating and purging. A ‘binge’ varies from person to person, but is typically defined as consuming a large quantity of food (usually high in fats and sugars) in a relatively short period of time (usually less than an hour). During an average binge episode, a person may consume anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 calories in one sitting.Purging, on the other hand, is the act of ridding one’s body of the food and calories consumed during a binge. The most common purging behavior, self-induced vomiting, is done in a desperate attempt to prevent weight gain from the food consumed during the binge. Other forms of purging behavior include excessive exercising, fasting, and the use (and abuse) or diuretics and laxatives. It is important to note that purging does NOT work for weight loss. This is a myth. Nearly immediately after the food has been consumed, the body begins absorbing and breaking down its components, including the calories and fat contained in the binge-food. Purging may provide temporary relief from the guilt a bulimic feels after a binge, and may also rid the body of the weight of the food itself, but the damage has already been done. This is yet another reason why bulimia is harder to diagnose than other eating disorders, since the sufferer is usually of an average weight and therefore does not appear to be “ill”. Furthermore, purging behaviors such as abusing laxatives or inducing vomiting can be lethal if performed frequently, since these methods dehydrate the body and cause an electrolyte imbalance. By purging this way on a regular basis, a person with bulimia may feel dizzy, weak, and lethargic. In severe cases, the vital organs of the body may fail, leading to death.

About Binge-Eating Disorder (BED):

Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) is an eating disorder that is similar to Bulimia Nervosa (BN), but without the purging behavior. In other words, BN and BED share the bingeing component of the disorder, but not the purging aspect. BED is also known as “compulsive overeating”, as sufferers tend to binge-eat in response to negative events and emotions. While it is normal for people to occasionally over-indulge, persons with BED do this more often than most. Binges occur daily and sometimes even multiple times per day. A person with this disorder will eat when they aren’t hungry and continue to eat after their stomach is full. One of the fundamental characteristics of BED (and all eating disorders) is feeling out of control. The person feels as though it is impossible to stop bingeing, despite the overwhelming negative emotions that accompany the binge. The sufferer may become extremely upset and disgusted with themselves either during or immediately after a binge episode, and are constantly at battle with themselves to be able to stop eating. The vicious cycle of overeating to feel better and then subsequently feeling worse after bingeing only begins to repeat itself over and over until the individual feels so trapped and depressed that they think there’s no way out. Persons with BED are usually overweight and sometimes obese due to the constant bingeing, and this further fuels the self-loathing and in turn, the use of food for comfort.

About Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD):

While this is a disorder that receives a lot less attention than some of the other psychological disorders, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is rapidly becoming one of the most frequently diagnosed body image disorders, particularly in the male population. Persons with BDD are preoccupied with body image and have a severe dissatisfaction with their own body. BDD sufferers misperceive the appearance of their bodies, and often complain about either certain aspects of their body or their body as a whole to the point where it causes extreme psychological distress and the urge to alter their appearance. Male sufferers often report excessive exercising in an attempt to achieve the “ideal male body” – images which they are bombarded with in magazines, television programs, movies, and advertisements. It was once believed that these types of images only affected females, driving their desire to be as thin as possible. However, we now know that males too can suffer from eating disorders and body image disturbances that negatively impact their lives in the same way that images of rail-thin supermodels can negatively influence females. BDD usually coincides with other psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety and normally begins in adolescence, when the body undergoes many physical and hormonal changes. A person with this disorder does not typically adapt well to these changes, and often compares him/herself to the perceived “ideal” body that society deems as “perfect”. No matter how much they diet or exercise, a person with BDD feels as though he/she never measures up to the societal pressure that dictates what is ideal. The discrepancy between one’s personal perception of the self and the socially-perpetuated standard causes persons with BDD to become extremely anxious, depressed, and dissatisfied with his/her body. This obsession with trying to attain the unattainable inevitably becomes discouraging, and for some BDD sufferers the inability to achieve the “ideal body” is enough to send them into a downward spiral of debilitating depression and suicidal ideation.

About Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS):

A diagnosis of Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) means that the individual is clearly suffering from an eating disorder, but does not fit neatly into any of the established categories because he/she fails to meet all of the diagnostic criteria. For instance, a female could be diagnosed with EDNOS if she engages in binge-eating and purging behavior once a week, because the diagnostic criteria for Bulimia Nervosa (BN) requires bingeing and purging at least twice per week. Regardless of the diagnosis (EDNOS vs. BN), the person with the eating disorder is still suffering from a dangerous and potentially life-threatening condition if left untreated. A diagnosis of EDNOS does not mean that you are “less sick” than someone who is diagnosed with BN. Remember, these are textbook definitions using a diagnostic manual. This means that for each diagnosis, there are particular criteria one has to meet in order to have the specific disorder. Aside from the physical complications associated with all eating disorders, the psychological and emotional turmoil are also present and require treatment.


Eating Disorder Counseling:

As you can see, there are many different types of disordered eating – perhaps some that you weren’t even aware of. Eating disorders continue to plague North America, taking countless numbers of lives each year and disturbing the lives of millions. If you think you may have an eating disorder, you must reach out and ask for help. Eating disorders are dangerous and life-threatening – especially if left untreated. Call my San Diego office for a free consultation on eating disorder counseling today. With my help, you can finally break free from those inner voices of torment that are telling you you’re imperfect. You will finally live a life where numbers no longer dictate your mood and gauge your self-worth. You will begin to realize that recovery from an eating disorder – no matter how severe – is possible with the right help. And over time, you will learn to accept yourself the way you are and love yourself. Remember, no ‘body’ is “perfect”, and nobody’s perfect either. “Perfection” is unattainable and does exist. We all have things we’d like to change about our appearance, but we have to accept what we cannot change and always put our health first. If you’re jeopardizing your health for your outward appearance, you may have an eating disorder or be on the verge of developing one. Please reach out for help and call my San Diego counseling office today.
San Diego Therapist for Eating Disorders

Copyright ©2012 Jan Rakoff. All Rights Reserved.

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