Have you ever struggled with food, your body, or your weight? Maybe you know someone who has?
If so, you're not alone.
Eating disorders can be challenging to overcome and can affect anyone, regardless of their gender, age, or background. It's a condition that's often misunderstood and stigmatized. Still, the truth is that eating disorders are not a choice, and seeking professional help can make a significant difference in one's recovery journey.
Unfortunately, a considerable amount of stigma surrounds therapy, which often discourages people from seeking the help they need. However, it is essential to understand that seeking therapy for eating disorders is a sign of strength and can provide individuals with the support they need to overcome their struggles.
Here, we aim to highlight the importance of seeking eating disorder therapy and provide our readers with a list of the best online therapy options available in 2023. We completely understand that not everyone has access to in-person therapy, and with the rise of teletherapy, online therapy has become more accessible than ever before.
Through this blog, we hope to provide the right information you need to make informed decisions about your mental health and empower you to seek the help you need to lead happier and healthier lives.
What is an Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders are complex and serious mental illnesses that can affect anyone. They are characterized by an unhealthy relationship with food, body image, and weight, which can lead to severe physical and emotional consequences.
There are various types of eating disorders, including:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Binge-eating disorder
- Other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED)
Each of these disorders has its own set of symptoms and can range from mild to severe.
Anorexia nervosa includes an intense fear of gaining weight, a distorted body image, and significantly low body weight. People with anorexia often reduce their food intake, exercise excessively, and use other behaviors to control their weight and shape.
Bulimia nervosa includes recurrent episodes of binge eating, followed by compensatory behaviors such as vomiting, excessive exercise, or laxative use. People with Bulimia Nervosa also engage in other behaviors, such as fasting or restricting, to control their weight.
The binge-eating disorder includes recurrent episodes of binge eating, during which a person consumes excessive food in a short period and feels a loss of control. Unlike bulimia, people with binge-eating disorders do not engage in compensatory behaviors.
Other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED) include eating disorders that do not meet any of the criteria for Anorexia nervosa, Binge-eating disorder, or Bulimia nervosa. Examples of OSFED include atypical anorexia nervosa, night eating syndrome, and purging disorder.
Causes and Symptoms
Eating disorders can be caused by a combination of factors, including genetic, environmental, and psychological. Some of the most common causes of eating disorders include:
- Genetics: Genetics can play a significant role in developing eating disorders. Those with a close relative with an eating disorder are more likely to acquire it themselves.
- Environmental factors: Environmental factors such as cultural pressure to be thin, media images promoting a thin ideal, and peer pressure can also contribute to developing eating disorders.
- Psychological factors: Psychological factors like low self-esteem, perfectionism, anxiety, and depression can also contribute to developing eating disorders.
- Life events: Life events such as traumatic experiences, abuse, and major life changes can also trigger the development of eating disorders.
Depending on the severity and nature of the disorder, the symptoms of eating disorders may appear very differently. However, some common signs and symptoms include:
- Preoccupation with food, weight, and body shape
- Obsessive calorie counting or food tracking
- Distorted body image
- Avoidance of certain foods or food groups
- Skipping meals or fasting
- Secretive eating or hiding food
- Excessive exercise
- Use of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Mood swings or irritability
- Fatigue or low energy
- Physical complications, such as amenorrhea, gastrointestinal problems, and dental issues
It is important to remember that eating disorders are not a choice and cannot be cured simply by "just eating more" or "just stopping." They are complex mental illnesses that require professional help and support.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, it's essential to seek help as soon as possible. Several treatment options are available, including therapy, medication, and nutritional counseling, which can help individuals recover and improve their quality of life. Remember, recovery is possible; no one must go through it alone.
What Therapy Helps With Eating Disorders?
Treatment for eating disorders can involve a wide range of approaches. More information about each treatment option is provided below.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
These could be thoughts or beliefs that have to do with things like:
- Body Shape
After recognizing these beliefs, you will be provided tools for altering and controlling them.
People with eating disorders who receive cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which treats various mental health issues, often report reductions in co-occurring conditions like sadness and anxiety.
CBT-E is a subset of CBT designed specifically for use with Eating disorders of all kinds.
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT)
IPT is a form of treatment for eating problems like bulimia and binge eating disorder. IPT examines your eating problem from the perspective of your interactions with others.
In IPT, therapists use these four "problem regions" to help narrow down the issue. In this category are items such as:
Interpersonal deficits: Lack of intimate, meaningful relationships is a common symptom of interpersonal deficits. These connections need not be romantic in nature and can instead be with close friends or relatives.
Role disputes: Conflicts over one's role can arise when one person's standards and another's are at odds.
Role transitions: these usually involve significant life changes, such as becoming an independent adult for the first time, changing careers, or beginning a romantic relationship.
Grief: A loss of any kind, whether a person or a connection, can bring on the painful emotions known as grief.
You and your therapist can investigate how eating disorder symptoms are linked to each area. Then, they'll work with you to create techniques for better communicating and interacting with others so that you can feel better.
Family-based treatment (FBT)
This method of treatment is sometimes called the Maudsley Approach. It's commonly prescribed for young people aged 12-18 who suffer from anorexia or bulimia.
Members of the patient's immediate family play an important role in family-based therapy (FBT). They play a role in facilitating the following actions on your part:
- Keeping to a balanced diet
- Keeping a normal weight and getting back to a healthy size
- Putting a stop to destructive routines like excessive eating and purging
Dialectal behavior therapy (DBT)
The primary goal of DBT is emotional regulation. With the help of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), you can alter the destructive patterns of behavior that characterize an eating problem.
Directed behavioral therapy (DBT) seeks to improve a number of skills, including:
- Capabilities in interacting with others
- Display of Feelings
- Fluidity and receptivity
DBT has been investigated in treating binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa because of its emphasis on distress tolerance and mindfulness training.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
Anxiety, pain, and other negative emotions are considered to be the root causes of the behaviors linked with mental health conditions, according to acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
In ACT, patients are encouraged to reflect on and evaluate their own personal beliefs. They are then prompted to create aims that will allow them to bring these ideals into reality.
The goal is to embrace all emotions, even the negative ones, and to make changes in behavior that are more consistent with one's beliefs. A better existence and improved health are thought to be possible as a result.
Although acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) shows promise as an adjunct treatment for eating disorders, more study is required to determine its efficacy as monotherapy.
Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT)
CRT is geared toward developing creative and adaptable minds. Currently, it's a common method of treating anorexic nervosa.
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by rigid thought patterns, and cognitive restructuring therapy (CRT) uses a range of exercises and tasks to help resolve these. Here are a few instances of such responsibilities:
- Having you draw shapes or make movements with your dominant and nondominant hands
- Having you alternate between two topics is a common attention-splitting exercise.
- Practicing perusing and summarizing increasingly complex texts
- Figuring out how to get around by using clues from the environment and commonplace items
Understanding the origins of your eating problem is a primary focus of psychodynamic psychotherapy. This requires you to delve deep into your own motivations and inner issues.
Therapists practicing this method assume that your symptoms stem from an inability to satisfy certain psychological requirements. The symptoms of your condition can be treated, and the likelihood of a relapse lessened if you learn to identify and deal with its underlying causes.
Does Online Therapy Help Eating Disorder?
Yes, online therapy can be an effective form of treatment for eating disorders. Online therapy, also called teletherapy or e-therapy, is a convenient way to get help for any mental health issue without leaving the house.
Online therapy for eating disorders typically involves talk therapy with a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychologist, counselor, or therapist. During therapy sessions, individuals can discuss their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to their eating disorder, and work with their eating disorder therapist to develop coping strategies and tools to manage their symptoms.
Some of the benefits of online therapy for eating disorders include:
- Accessibility: Online therapy makes it easier for individuals to access mental health treatment, regardless of their location, transportation, or scheduling constraints.
- Privacy: Online therapy provides a high degree of privacy and confidentiality, which can be especially important for individuals who are hesitant to seek help due to the stigma associated with eating disorders.
- Flexibility: Online therapy for eating disorders allows individuals to schedule appointments that are convenient for them, including evenings and weekends.
- Comfort: Online therapy allows individuals to receive treatment from the comfort of their own homes, which can help reduce anxiety and increase comfort levels.
- Cost: Online therapy can be more affordable than in-person therapy, and some insurance plans may cover the cost of online therapy.
While online therapy can be an effective form of treatment for eating disorders, it's important to note that it may not be suitable for everyone. Individuals with severe eating disorders may require more intensive treatment, such as residential or inpatient treatment, to manage their symptoms. It is crucial to consult with a mental health professional to determine the most appropriate form of treatment for an individual's specific needs.
How To Find The Right Therapist For An Eating Disorder?
If you are wondering how to treat eating disorders in therapy, keep reading!
Finding the right eating disorder therapist can be a crucial step toward recovery. Here are some tips for finding a therapist that is a good fit:
- Look for a therapist who specializes in eating disorders: Eating disorders require specialized knowledge and training. Look for an eating disorder therapist who has experience working with individuals with eating disorders.
- Consider the therapist's approach: Different therapists use different approaches to treating eating disorders. Some therapists may use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), while others may use dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or other evidence-based therapies. Consider the therapist's approach and determine if it aligns with your needs and preferences.
- Check the therapist's credentials: Make sure the therapist is licensed and qualified to provide mental health services in your state. You can typically check a therapist's credentials on their website or by contacting your state's licensing board.
- Ask for referrals: Ask your primary care physician, friends, or family members for referrals to therapists who specialize in eating disorders. You can also contact local eating disorder treatment centers or organizations for recommendations.
- Consider logistics: Consider factors such as the therapist's location, availability, and fees. Some therapists offer teletherapy, which may be more convenient if you live in a remote area or have transportation or mobility issues.
- Trust your instincts: Feeling comfortable and safe with your therapist is important. Trust your instincts; if you are uncomfortable with a particular therapist, it's okay to look for someone else.
Remember that finding the right eating disorder therapist may take time and effort, but it's an important step toward recovery. You should not be shy about reaching out to numerous therapists to find the best fit.
Online therapy is an increasingly popular and effective form of treatment for eating disorders. It provides individuals with accessibility, privacy, flexibility, comfort, and cost-effectiveness in seeking mental health treatment. Various online therapy options are available, and it's important to choose the best one that suits an individual's needs and preferences.
With the increasing demand for online therapy, several high-quality online therapy platforms are available that provide specialized treatment for eating disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, seeking help through online therapy can be a vital step toward recovery.
Remember, recovery is possible, and with the right treatment and support, individuals can overcome their eating disorders and lead healthy, fulfilling life. Connect with a licensed eating disorder therapist at Lifebulb now!