Help and Information

If you have found our website, you are probably looking for help or information for yourself or someone you care about. The internet can be an inspiring resource in our search for clarity and direction, as we seek to understand ourselves and change our behaviors. Research is a great first step towards reaching out for professional assistance. For more information concerning eating disorders, anxiety, and trauma, we suggest visiting the trustworthy websites we’ve listed to the right.

National Eating Disorders Association

The National Eating Disorders Association is an organization that promotes Eating Disorder Awareness Week and other events around prevention and awareness.

National Institute of Mental Health

The National Institute of Mental Health, is a government organization which publishes fact sheets on eating disorders.

The Renfrew Center Foundation

The Renfrew Center Foundation, is a nonprofit organization, working on education (both professional and consumer), prevention, research and access to treatment.

Cambridge Eating Disorder Center

The Cambridge Eating Disorder Center, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, strives to provide the highest quality continuum of care in a non-institutional community setting to both males and females suffering from eating disorders.

Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center

The Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center at Laurel Hill in Medford, Massachusetts,  places high priority on individual care including treatment planning and individual therapeutic sessions for anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and exercise addiction.

Supporting a Loved One

The National Eating Disorder Association’s website is a wonderful educational resource.  For those looking to help and support a loved one struggling with an eating disorder, their downloadable “toolkits” of information are invaluable.

From their website:

“The NEDA Parent Toolkit is for anyone who wants to understand more about how to support a family member or friend affected by an eating disorder. You will find answers to your insurance questions; signs, symptoms and medical consequences; information about treatment and levels of care; and questions to ask when choosing a treatment provider.”

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Frequently Asked Questions About Eating Disorders

What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a condition that develops involving one’s thought process (cognitions) and resulting behaviors. The thought process, over time, becomes very specific and complicated, directing the individual’s behavior. It often times will distort the way an individual sees him or herself in the mirror. The eating disordered thinking process becomes a preoccupation in one’s mind to the exclusion of other thoughts.

There are different sub-types of eating disorders that manifest certain specific behaviors. When an individual with an eating disorder tries to counter their thoughts and do a different behavior, it is always distressing to him or her, compelling the individual to go back to following the eating disordered thinking.

An eating disorder almost always emerges as an individual is going through a crisis of some sort in their life. The eating disorder is an attempt at a solution to a problem at the time that arises from the subconscious mind.

Who gets eating disorders?

As our culture becomes more and more inundated with media generated icons depicting a certain rarely achievable “look”, it becomes more appealing to certain vulnerable individuals to try to emulate. The western culture has sold the message that you can be happy and satisfied with yourself if you are at a certain weight. The messages are rampant in our culture. You don’t need to pick up a magazine—you can be talking with your next door neighbor and they talk about what diet they are on.

The statistics on the growing number of individuals appearing at treatment centers for eating disorders is growing at an alarming rate. There are many factors that make one vulnerable for an eating disorder; they are as follows:

• living in a culture who idealizes thinness
• feeling depressed
• having low-self-esteem
• having a parent or family member who has suffered or is suffering with an eating disorder
• having been teased in one’s life about one’s body shape<
• a person who feels isolated from peers or someone they could talk with about their feelings
• living in a family system where problems are not discussed, rather swept under the rug.

How do you get an eating disorder?

Almost all individuals who get eating disorders start by beginning to change their eating patterns. Some people will cut back on certain foods and others will stop eating all together. As the individual is reinforced through compliments from friends/family members, and they feel a sense of accomplishment when the scale goes down, they become more committed to the practicing of this behavior. The longer the behavior goes unchallenged, the more risk of entrenchment in the behaviors.

Other individuals will get an eating disorder through the influence of the media and certain books that describe the practices of individuals who have eating disorders. Many times individuals will learn how to develop an eating disorder through friends.

Over time, an individual might try to stop doing certain behaviors and is unable to do so due to enormous fear. When it becomes impossible to challenge the behaviors an eating disorder has set in.

Why does someone develop an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is an attempt, in the absence of adequate resources, to solve a problem for an individual. For example, someone may have lost a family member suddenly and is unable to talk about their feelings and go through the normal grief process. The eating disorder will give a person a task to do: lose weight; this will give the mind something else to think about other than the pain of the loss.

Eating disorders are a developmental phenomena which conflict in growth and mastery of developmental challenges are at the core of eating disorders. Eating disordered behavior has served the purpose of reduction of anxiety associated with emotional dysregulation.

Are there different kinds of eating disorders?

At the present time there are three sub-types of eating disorders:

• bulimia nervosa
• anorexia nervosa, restricting type and purging type
• and eating disorder not otherwise specified

There is a new classification of eating disorders called binge eating disorder.

Is there a cure for eating disorders?

Since eating disorders are influenced and affected by biological factors, psychological factors, and social systems, they are challenging conditions to treat.

What kinds of help are available?

There are different levels of treatment for eating disorders. The first is individual psychotherapy where a client meets with a therapist for one hour a week. The treatment may or may not be augmented with dietary counseling sessions with a dietician. In some cases a physician is involved to monitor the client medically.

Another form of treatment when an individual needs more structure and support to change behaviors, is an intensive out-patient program where the individual will come to therapy a few times a week and will include different forms of therapy including individual psychotherapy, family counseling, and possibly group therapy.

The most intensive type of treatment available is residential or inpatient hospitalization where the patient is in a facility for a period of time. This is when medically the client is not stable and is needing a more structured environment to assist in recovery.

The therapeutic relationship provides the interpersonal context in which the individual can begin to develop their authentic self and move past the limitations of the eating disordered thought process.