EATING DISORDERS

There are many eating disorders and their symptoms usually develop early in life. If left untreated, eating disorders can have a serious overall impact on the body.Common conditions include anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, and rumination disorder, which involves repeated food regurgitation following a meal. Physical damage to the digestive system and repeated “binging and purging” can lead to dehydration and teeth and heart issues. In severe cases, some people develop cuts and calluses on the tops of their fingers from repeatedly inducing vomiting.

Some warning signs of an eating disorder may include skipping meals, adopting restrictive diets, eating in secret, excessive snacking, and use of dietary supplements or laxatives. Teen and young females are at a greater risk to develop eating disorders, but they commonly occur in males and can have a broader age range. The disorders are often associated with other mental health issues and can create depression and anxiety, suicidal thoughts or behavior, and concentration issues at home, work, and school. The disorders can be fatal and have been linked to family history and brain chemicals with certain types of people more at risk.

Anorexia Nervosa
People who suffer from anorexia nervosa often see themselves as overweight but are, in reality, dangerously underweight. They obsessively weigh themselves many times throughout the day, while restricting their food to an extreme degree, often exercise excessively, and may force themselves to vomit or use laxatives. This disorder has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, and while many people with this anorexia nervosa die from complications associated with starvation, others die of suicide.

Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa is recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over the behavior. Compensation for overeating may mean forced vomiting, abuse of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of all of these. People with bulimia nervosa may be slightly underweight, normal weight, or overweight.

Binge-eating Disorder
People with binge-eating disorder lose control of their health by overeating. Unlike bulimia nervosa, periods of binge-eating are not followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. People with binge-eating disorder often are overweight or obese. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S.

How We Help

According to Dr. Brent Lawlis, Chief Clinical Officer at Alleviant Health Centers, eating disorders are associated with the highest morbidity and mortality of any mental health disorder. “They can lead to cardiac events and strokes because of stress – a low BMI really takes a toll on the body,” he said, adding the Alleviant has a team of therapists who specialize in treatment. “Frequent therapy is a benefit, ” Lawlis said. “We try to stop eating disorders at a body dysmorphic level – when are depressed you feel lousy and see yourself as lousy.”

In disorders such as binge eating or emotional eating, the brain-gut connection is going to worsen. Complex carbs and sugars are inflammatory and can worsen anxiety states. “The holistic techniques we utilize with diet sound simple but it’s the discipline to pull it off. Working with our healthcare professionals is like having a coach,” Lawlis said. “We treat the entire person – mind, body, and spirit. With eating disorders, it’s not just a pill, it’s a lifestyle change.”

Ann Brown, LCSW

Ann Brown, a Licensed Clinic Social Worker at Alleviant Health Centers has more than 20 years of experience treating eating disorders, and also serves on the board of the Eating Disorder Coalition of Arkansas

In Arkansas, resources are more limited, but the disorders are still widespread,” Ann said. “Eating disorders are impacted by a combination of physical, behavioral, and nutritional factors. Ideally, all the people who make up a treatment team would be under the same roof where therapist, psychiatrist, dietician, internal medicine doctor would work together because it’s so complicated,” she said.

At Alleviant Health Centers, the team addresses every need, especially because of the physical dangers that eating disorders cause. “Therapy is usually a combination of cognitive behavioral and interpersonal psychotherapy are key, because eating disorders are closely related to anxiety, OCD, and addiction,” Brown said. Eating disorders tend to be even more hidden than other disorders. “But they usually interfere with a person’s life to some extent. I’ll meet with someone with anxiety or depression but find out there are 10 years of this some type of restrictive or binge-purge behavior that’s been masked,” Brown said.

“Patients start to get better when they admit that it’s something they’ve purposely on to. The disorder or symptoms have served them some purpose. It’s a kind of control, or a secret, and when they share it, it’s such a personal thing,” she said. “Walking in to get help involves discomfort, but part of our training is to make people feel comfortable. We do all we can to create a welcoming and non-judgmental atmosphere. There’s a burden lifted – relief that you’re not going to get any other way,” Brown said, adding that recovery is a life-long process. “And successes come from when a person has a treatment team and the healthy support system such as of friends, family or faith.”

Brown said she hopes people living with eating disorders and their loved ones will not be afraid to discuss symptoms and concerns. “It’s OK to talk or ask questions and approach it without shame as we continue to work to decrease stigma.”

In our therapy, we combine holistic and integrative medicine, which allows us to provide you with a unique treatment plan based upon your genetics, nutritional status, and biochemical assay. This approach addresses the fundamental source of eating disorders and restores your natural state of balance and peace.

“You don’t have to live with this struggle any longer.”

– Kaye T. Patient of Alleviant Health Centers & Depression Sufferer

Comprehensive Psychiatric Care 

We provide comprehensive holistic psychiatric care for those seeking psychiatric evaluations, counseling, and medication management. We recognize that each patient requires individualized attention and we’re committed to helping you maintain the right treatment regimen for your particular diagnosis. Our team of supportive psychiatric professionals and counselors enjoy walking alongside our patients during their healing journey.

Ketamine Infusion Therapy

Ketamine Infusion Therapy can provide rapid relief from depressive symptoms for a significant number of patients. In controlled, specific amounts, ketamine stimulates the creation and remodeling of neurons that have atrophied in depression. Approximately 70% of patients may experience a significant reduction in symptoms  – many during their first infusion, which creates an excellent opportunity for rapid healing of emotional trauma with a therapist post infusion.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

TMS is a non-invasive procedure for treatment-resistant depression. It delivers magnetic impulses through an electromagnetic coil to the prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain associated with mood control. TMS helps nerves begin to communicate again and reinforces positive nerve pathways. Therapy takes place five days a week for four to six weeks. Each treatment lasts less than 4 minutes. TMS is FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression. We will preauthorize you to make sure that your insurance is accepted.

Symptoms

The symptoms accompanying an eating disorder may include the following:

  • Obsession with weight, food, calories carbohydrates, fat grams, and dieting

  • Refusal of certain foods

  • Reluctance to eat with other people

  • Skipping meals

  • Social withdrawal

  • Food rituals

  • Noticeable weight fluctuation

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Dizziness/fainting when standing up

  • Dry skin, hair, and brittle nails

  • Teeth issues like cavities and discoloration

  • Anemia, low thyroid and hormone levels, low potassium, low white and red blood cell counts

We're here to help you

Reach out to us by calling 866-951-HEAL or via this form. One of our intake coordinators will contact you within 24 – 48 hours.
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