Eating Disorder Treatment in Los Angeles, CA
An eating disorder is a serious mental condition characterized by abnormal eating habits such as restricting food, bingeing on food, or eating only certain types of food. A person with an eating disorder may also obsess over their body size, shape, and weight, and exercise excessively.
Eating disorders can result in long-term health consequences and even death in the worst cases. Mental health is also affected negatively and it’s common for those with an eating disorder to also suffer from depression, anxiety, substance abuse and addiction, and other mental disorders.
We understand that recovering from an eating disorder takes a tremendous amount of effort and support from others and we’re ready and waiting to guide you or your loved one on a journey towards total recovery and health.
What is an Eating Disorder?
Over 30 million people in the USA suffer from some kind of eating disorder across all genders, races, and ethnic groups, but they are most common in young women. 1 in 20 people will be affected by an eating disorder at some point in their lives.
There are several different types of eating disorders, all of which have an obsession with food and body shape in common.
Anorexia usually develops in adolescence and is more common in women than men. Anorexia sufferers restrict food and calories well below the normal level needed to maintain a healthy weight and will often eat only a limited number of foods that they consider “safe”. They tend to have a distorted view of their own body shape so they will see themselves as fat even when dangerously underweight. As well as limiting food, they may exercise excessively, often in secret.
Sufferers of bulimia often start out by trying to restrict food. When the temptation to eat becomes overwhelming, they will then binge eat a large quantity of food and attempt to “purge” it through vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise. This bingeing and purging becomes a regular and uncontrollable cycle with incredibly damaging effects on physical and mental health. Unlike people suffering from anorexia, bulimics often remain at a normal weight, meaning their condition may go unnoticed by others for years.
Binge-eating disorder involves the same episodes of out-of-control eating of large amounts of food that characterizes bulimia. However, with this disorder, there is no attempt to rid the body of food by purging. For this reason, people suffering from binge-eating disorder are often overweight. Binge-eating disorder is actually the most common eating disorder in the USA and is also one of the most recently recognized as a mental disorder. It’s common for sufferers to be unaware that they meet the criteria of an eating-disordered person.
Warning Signs of Eating Disorders
Eating disorder symptoms vary depending on the individual, but there are certain behaviors that may indicate someone is suffering from an eating disorder:
- Obsession with food, weight, and calorie counting
- Constant dieting
- Dramatic weight loss or gain, or fluctuations in weight
- Excessive exercising and refusing to skip a workout even when sick
- Dressing in lots of layers
- Complaining of feeling cold all the time
- Cold and mottled hands or feet
- Finding lots of junk food wrappers hidden or in the trash, large amounts of food missing, or other evidence of binge eating
- Finding laxatives or diuretics
- Frequently visiting the bathroom immediately after eating
- Using excessive amounts of mouthwash or gum
- Recent decline in dental health (enamel is eroded and teeth may become discolored from constant vomiting)
- Avoiding social situations involving food
- Strange habits around food such as not allowing foods to touch or cutting out entire food groups
- Not wanting to eat around others, and often eating alone or in secret
- Missing or stopped period
- Calluses on the top of finger joints from induced vomiting
- Unnatural interest in the eating habits of others
- Frequent dizziness and fainting spells.
Consequences of Having an Eating Disorder
Eating disorders can result in many negative effects on physical and mental health, some of which may be permanent.
Physical health effects
- Brittle and dry hair, skin, and nails
- Muscle weakness and wasting
- Poor circulation
- Lanugo (fine hair) growing all over the body
- Dental problems
- Low blood pressure
- Weak bones and osteoporosis
- Sore throat from constant vomiting
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Stomach ulcers
- Organ damage (including heart and brain damage)
Mental health effects
- Obsession with body shape and food that makes normal life impossible
- Low self-esteem
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Withdrawal from social life and relationships.
Eating Disorder Treatment
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and without treatment up to 20% of sufferers die as a result of their condition. However eating disorder treatment can be very effective and reduces this figure to 2-3%, with around 60% of people fully recovering.
We tailor treatment plans to each individual’s mental and physical health needs and they usually involve a combination of:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Nutritional counseling
For individuals who are very underweight or starting to suffer serious health consequences from their eating disorder, close medical monitoring and attention are needed.
For this reason, in-patient treatment is usually a good option for people who are suffering from a serious or long-term eating disorder. We offer a supportive and safe environment for recovery in a professionally staffed medical facility that has JCAHO and DHCS certification.
We understand that eating disorders are not really about food but all about the feelings of the person who is suffering from one. Our caring and experienced staff will help each individual take their first steps towards recovery and look forward to a normal happy life, free from food and body obsession.