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.