Eating Disorder Counseling & Therapy Services in Omaha

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, nearly 30 million people in the United States are affected by an eating disorder.

Eating disorders occur when an individual’s relationship with food spirals out of control.  This can have a significant impact on one’s mental and physical health. In fact, eating disorders reportedly have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, making treatment critically important.  While most suffers are young women, eating disorders are on the rise for individuals of every gender and background.

Although serious, eating disorders are treatable.

Our Minds Distort Our Mirrors

Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by significant weight loss resulting from a restriction in calories.  Some people with anorexia suffer from body dysmorphia — meaning they consider themselves to be overweight no matter how thin they get.

Often people with anorexia do not recognize they are underweight and may still “feel fat” at a dangerously low body weight.  In an attempt to become even thinner, people with anorexia will restrict their food and calorie intake.

An estimated 10 to 20% of people with anorexia will eventually die from complications related to it, giving anorexia nervosa the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.

Anorexia Signs and Symptoms

The primary symptom of anorexia is an obsessive preoccupation with weight loss and the process of eating.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Weight loss is often but not always noted
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Excessive exercise
  • Preoccupation with food, calories, recipes
  • Excuses for not eating meals (i.e., “I ate earlier, I’m not feeling well.”)
  • Unusual eating habits (e.g., cutting food into tiny pieces, picking at food)
  • Noticeable discomfort around food
  • Complaining of being “too fat”, even when thin
  • Cooking for others, but not eating themselves
  • Restricting food choices to only diet foods
  • Guilt or shame about eating
  • Depression, irritability, mood swings
  • Evidence of vomiting, laxative abuse, diet pills or diuretics to control weight
  • Secretive behaviors including difficulties eating in public

Anorexia is often characterized by a drive for perfectionism and is likely to be accompanied by symptoms of depression, anxiety, of substance abuse.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder that is characterized by a cycle of binge eating — or consuming large amounts of food in one sitting — followed by purging to try and rid the body of unwanted calories. Bulimia is more prevalent than anorexia — affecting approximately 1-3% of teens in the United States.

Unlike people with anorexia, many individuals who are bulimic maintain a normal weight despite their bingeing, and often suffer from poor body image and self-esteem. Behavior patterns may include other harmful activities such as periods of fasting, overuse of laxatives or diet pills, and compulsive exercise.

Individuals with bulimia tend to be secretive and hide their behavior from family members and loved ones.

Bulimia Signs and Symptoms

The primary symptom of bulimia includes binge eating followed by purging to try and rid the body of unwanted calories.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Binge eating
  • Secretive eating habits
  • Bathroom visits after eating (in order to purge)
  • Vomiting/purging
  • Laxative, diet pill or diuretic abuse
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Harsh exercise regimes if the sufferer uses exercise to purge
  • Fasting or avoiding eating after a purge
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Severe self-criticism
  • Fear of not being able to stop eating voluntarily
  • Self-deprecating thoughts following eating
  • Avoidance of restaurants, planned meals or social events

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) affects an estimated 3.5% of women and 2 % of men — making it the most common eating disorder in the United States.  It is estimated that up to 40 % of both men and women who are currently seeking methods to lose weight are actually suffering from some form of BED.

Binge Eating Disorder impacts people of all ages, socio-economic statuses and races.  BED is characterized by frequent binge eating sessions where the sufferer feels very out of control and ashamed.  These uncontrolled eating episodes often lead to intense and disturbing feelings of guilt and depression.

Currently, the exact causes of BED are unknown; however, potential factors include; a history of dieting, genetics, trauma, depression and anxiety. Additionally, there is evidence that being the subject of weight stigma (discrimination based on one’s weight) causes people to binge eat.

Bingeing, or the episodes in which the sufferer is eating a vast quantity of food, usually revolves around types of foods which are very high in things like sugar and fat, but that are relatively low in real nutrient value.  As a result, people with BED can gain weight and look overweight or even obese but remain undernourished as the foods that they are consuming are low in amounts of essential minerals and vitamins.

Binge Eating Symptoms

  • Eating to the point of discomfort
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating very fast
  • Eating in private out of embarrassment
  • Feeling guilty or shameful
  • Self-deprecating thoughts following binges
  • Withdrawing from activities because of embarrassment about weight
  • Going on many different diets
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Eating little in public, while maintaining a high weight
  • Believing they will be a better person when thin
  • Feelings about self are based on weight
  • Social and professional failures attributed to weight
  • Feeling tormented by eating habits
  • Weight is focus of life

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Eating Disorder Treatment at Counseling Connections & Associates

Obtaining the appropriate treatment for any eating disorder is critical.  At Counseling Connections & Associates, we offer a compassionate and individualized approach to meet your treatment needs.  Our eating disorder professionals can assist you with:

  • Coordinating care with other treatment providers, including physicians and nutritionists
  • Addressing underlying psychological causes of the eating disorder
  • Identifying unhealthy behaviors and creating new, adaptive patterns
  • Assessing and treating presence of co-occurring depression and anxiety

What to Expect When Working With Us

Most eating disorder treatment requires a team approach.  Our multi-disciplinary team will maintain close collaboration with other members of the treatment team.

After completing an initial evaluation, our eating disorder clinicians will recommend a treatment plan that may include education, psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of all of the above.

This may include ongoing medication management, along with cognitive-behavioral psychotherapies, time-management strategies, and appropriate self-care.  Furthermore, psychoeducational training with parents and caregivers is often beneficial to provide at-home strategies that will reduce maladaptive behavior to provide structure and routine to those struggling with ADHD symptoms.  Also, because ADHD often impacts the overall family system — causing conflict and secondary family issues —family therapy may be recommended to identify skills to strengthen the family unit as a whole.

Contact Counseling Connections & Associates today to learn more about our Eating Disorder Treatment options!