Eating disorders are abnormal eating habits that can threaten your health or even your life. While many people may occasionally worry about their weight, people with eating disorders take such concerns to extremes. Eating disorders affect girls and boys, men and women, and people of all races and ethnicities. The earlier an eating disorder is caught and treated, the better the outcome. If you suspect a child or young adult may have an eating disorder, call the office or schedule an appointment online. Dr. Levy can help you with the next steps. As a doctor at Columbia University’s Center for Eating Disorders, she is considered an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of all eating disorders. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking feature or call one of the offices located on the Upper East Side of New York City and Bronxville, New York.
Eating Disorders Q & A
What are the different types of eating disorders?
While each of the eating disorders is unique in terms of its presentation, incidence, etiology, course, and outcome, the common feature they share is over-concern with eating, shape, or weight. In most patients with eating disorders, self-esteem becomes increasingly linked to a perceived shape or weight.
The three primary types of eating disorders are:
Patients with anorexia nervosa see themselves as significantly overweight even when they’re at a healthy weight or underweight. Anorexia is characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight and feeling driven to continuously lose more weight. They achieve that goal by severely restricting caloric intake, purging through self-induced vomiting, using laxatives, and sometimes engaging in excessive exercise.
Bulimia is characterized by cycles of binging — eating much more food in any two-hour period than the amount most people typically eat — followed by purging to eliminate the food. Purging is often done by self-induced vomiting, but patients may resort to using laxatives and diuretics or spending extreme time exercising. In some cases, patients cycle between binging and fasting to offset their calorie consumption.
Binge eating disorder (BED)
Binge eating, the most common eating disorder, is defined by binging without compensating for the calories by purging or using laxatives. Individuals with binge eating disorder feel unable to control their binging once it starts. They often feel embarrassed or disgusted with their own behavior.
BED is not the same as occasional binging. Occasional binges, like eating an entire bag of potato chips while watching a movie, are normal. Binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:
- Eating much more rapidly than normal
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
- Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
- Eating alone due to embarrassment over the quantity of food one is eating
- Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed or very guilty after overeating
What health problems develop due to eating disorders?
Not getting enough calories so that you’re underweight increases your risk of nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, dry skin, hair loss, anemia, hormone imbalances, and irregular menstrual periods.
Purging and using diuretics also leads to multiple problems, including dental erosion, electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, fluctuations in blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems.
All eating disorders have the potential to become life-threatening when they go untreated. In severe cases, death occurs due to starvation, health complications, and suicide.
How are eating disorders treated?
Eating disorders encompass an array of psychological and behavioral issues that must be explored and managed to help you return to full health and a thriving life. However, the first step in your treatment may require intensive inpatient care or partial hospitalization, depending on the severity of your eating disorder and your overall health.
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website says that the most important consideration when selecting a psychotherapist is the type of therapy they provide. NEDA further guides their readers by noting that each person responds better to different types of therapies.
No one understands the value of customizing your therapy better than Dr. Levy. After investing countless hours in training and with years of experience to her credit, she has dedicated her career to becoming skilled in many therapeutic techniques, including those proven to help eating disorders.
If you need help overcoming an eating disorder, you’ll find the compassionate care and individualized treatment you need from Dr. Rachel Katherine Levy. Call one of the offices or schedule an appointment online today.