Coming Back from an Eating Disorder

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Eating disorders are very complex diseases without treatment they can be fatal but experts say help is out there.

The three types of eating disorders psychiatrists like Dr. Kim Dennis use are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and eating disorders not otherwise specified which is the most common and not always recognized.

“People die in our country every day from complications from eating disorders and they don’t have to.” says Timberline Knolls Medical Director, Kim Dennis, M.D.

Warning signs include:

  • Changes in the way a person eats.
  • Cutting out specific foods.
  • Not eating with family and friends.
  • Refusing to eat.
  • Purging in an abnormal location.
  • Secret eating.
  • Puffy cheeks and scarring on the knuckles *Bulimia.

“People with eating disorders tend to look exhausted all of the time they can have very thin hair, hair falling out, their skin can look unhealthy.” says Dr. Dennis. “They’re losing muscle mass, they’re losing cardiac tissue, they’re losing brain tissue.”

Clinical Psychologist Marcia Nickow says treating an eating disorder is not a quick fix but the different approaches like inpatient residential care, day treatment, intensive out-patient visits, individual group therapy and meeting with a nutritionist can work.  “It’s absolutely possible for someone to have full life long recovery.” says Nickow.  Marcia says it’s most important to go to a 12-step program focused on eating disorder recovery, to create relationships with sponsors and peers and engage in productive activities. Tara turns in her daily meals to her support group.

An eating disorder is a very serious illness. One in ten people in any group setting will have had an eating disorder at some point in their life and it is not yet known if an eating disorder is genetic.

For more information on eating disorders and their treatment click here or here.