THERAPEUTIC RECOVERY NETWORK
We provide counseling services to help individuals struggling with various types of eating disorders. We work with individuals at different stages of recovery, teaching skills to manage obsessive thoughts and behaviors and then replace them with healthy ones.
What is an eating disorder?
Eating disorders are a mental health condition marked by a preoccupation with food and weight. They can disrupt a person’s ability to function both socially and psychologically and can lead to significant physical health problems. Though each eating disorder has unique symptoms, an unhealthy, often obsessive relationship with food and a negative body image characterize most of them.
Eating disorders tend to take over people’s lives with excessive thoughts about food and weight. Those thoughts often center on restricting food intake, binging and purging. Underlying feelings of low self-worth and often repressed trauma cause these symptoms and behaviors, which may serve as a way to avoid dealing with uncomfortable emotions.
Eating disorders serve as coping mechanisms, however maladaptive. Individuals with eating disorders use food to relieve stress, achieve more control over their lives or provide themselves comfort in what may feel like an unsafe or unfriendly world.
Impact on health & well-being
The preoccupation with food, weight and body image associated with eating disorders causes unhealthy behavioral patterns. These behavioral patterns damage a person’s physical and emotional well-being.
Disordered Thinking Patterns
Eating disorders affect a person’s mind and leads to frequent disordered thinking patterns that are hard to control, ignore or redirect. The thoughts relate to food or weight and consume the person’s attention. Rather than focusing on the completion of a school or work assignment or dealing with pending responsibilities, someone with an eating disorder may feel overwhelmed and debilitated by thoughts about calories, food they want to eat or guilt about food they have eaten.
This negative channeling of energy can prevent people with eating disorders from engaging in fulfilling relationships, achieving personal goals and enjoying daily life.
Eating disorders usually cause people to perceive themselves inaccurately. When looking in the mirror, people with eating disorders may see themselves as overweight when in fact they are underweight. This distorted self-perception feeds into disordered thinking patterns and adds to a person’s low self-esteem.
Inability to Regulate Emotions
People with eating disorders can struggle to regulate their emotions. Even mild stress may trigger them to feel overwhelmed and overreact to situations. This inability to regulate emotions can create feelings of embarrassment. It often prevents people from coping with everyday interactions and events, which can then affect relationships. It is not unusual for people with eating disorders to withdraw from friends and family, feeling incapable of managing those relationships.
Feelings of Isolation and Shame
People often feel ashamed of their eating disorders and want to keep them secret. This can lead them to isolate themselves to hide their behaviors and avoid confrontations. As connections break down, it becomes harder for family and friends to intervene and offer an outside view to the person locked inside their distorted perceptions and shame.
Though eating disorders usually start by affecting people’s minds, the behaviors associated with them often lead to medical complications. Habits of binging and purging, as well as the effects of undernutrition resulting from food restriction, result in a prevalence of health problems.
The link between eating disorders and mental health
No single issue causes an eating disorder to develop; studies have revealed that a web of complex factors contributes to their development. This web involves interactions between a person’s environment, genes, behaviors, and psychology, all of which can affect mental health. Research has consistently found a link between eating disorders and mental health. It often prevents people from coping with everyday interactions and events, which can then affect relationships. It is not unusual for people with eating disorders to withdraw from friends and family, feeling incapable of managing those relationships.
Steph Laney, CPC
Steph is a master's level clinical intern and a certified professional coach (CPC). She is completing her master’s in counseling at the University of North Georgia. She specializes in body-based therapeutic approaches that look at mental health from a holistic perspective and involve the body, spirit, and emotions along side the mind.
We offer counseling sessions for residents of Georgia & Michigan living in Cumming, Gainesville, Atlanta, Alpharetta, Savannah, Macon, Augusta, Athens, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Flint and all areas in between.
Wake Forrest University, wfu.edu