“All I ever think about is how much I’ve eaten, and how to avoid eating more”
“I don’t like going places because I have to worry about what kind of food will be there”
“Sometimes I feel like I’m in control of everything. But, more often it feels like maybe anorexia is actually in control of me.”
Anorexia Nervosa is a devastating illness that robs you of your joy, your peace of mind, and eventually your health. People with anorexia worry a great deal about gaining weight or becoming “fat”. The idea of “fat” may be associated with other ideas such as a loss of control or being unlovable. Because of this fear, you have difficulty nourishing yourself well enough. Therefore, you may become underweight or even dangerously thin.
Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
Food becomes a source of constant anxiety. Many people with anorexia report that they spend a good amount of their mental energy worrying about what they’ve eaten and planning for the next meal. For those who have concerned others in their lives, they may hide their eating habits.
However, a person with anorexia often continues feeling “fat” because that feeling doesn’t have much to do with how their body actually looks. Perhaps, you’ve seen the cartoon depicting anorexia. This cartoon showed a thin woman looking in the mirror with a larger woman looking back. Many people with anorexia describe their experience with their body as being very much like that.
Some people become aware that their eating problems have gotten out of control. They notice that it’s difficult to concentrate or even care about anything besides food. Some might even stop getting their menstrual periods or notice that they are losing hair. Sometimes, loved ones might start expressing concern about your weight or how much you eat. After doing some research, it’s clear that anorexia has taken over your life.
Note: some people do not get all or any of these symptoms. You might still have a problem, even if you don’t have these symptoms. Please reach out to our clinic if you are unsure.
- Rapid or extreme weight loss
- Low body weight
- Brittle, breakable hair and nails
- Ammenhorria. This happens when your period stops and fertility is impacted.
- Often feeling coldLanugo: a fine downy hair that the body grows to deal with the cold
- A yellowish or orange tint to the skin
- Difficulty sleeping
Mental and Emotional Symptoms
- Often worrying about being fat or having fat on your body
- Feeling a grandiose sense of achievement for thinness
- Lots of anxiety about food & your body
- Preoccupation with food, including feeding others
- Difficulty thinking about things that are not food-related
- Poor concentration
- Feeling “spacy” and out of it
- Low energy
- Not eating enough
- Eating in peculiar ways to manage anxiety during meals (food rituals)
- Weighing yourself frequently
- Checking for body fat often
- Hiding how little you’re eating from others
- Bingeing (occasionally eating large quantities of food)
- Purging (attempting to get rid of calories eaten)
The Monarch Wellness Approach to Anorexia Nervosa
At Monarch Wellness and Psychotherapy in Washington DC, we will work with you to find control over Anorexia. Our counselors help you understand anorexia and the false promises it has made. We think about what emotional role anorexia may play, such as helping you to feel safe, in control, good enough or loveable. Then, we make sure that you feel empowered to begin to meet those needs yourself in healthier, more reality-based ways.
While we are doing this deep emotional work, we also offer solid, concrete, evidence-based tools for fighting anorexia. Our therapists will help you establish a complete support team to help you tolerate your anxiety when you begin to eat differently. Then, we help you to fight back against your “eating disorder voice.” This is the voice in your head that says that you are never good enough, never thin enough, never perfect enough. In so doing, we help you to uncover your own voice. Ultimately, we will help you take back control of your life.
To treat Anorexia, we use the following tools:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps you to challenge the thoughts that anorexia puts into your head. For example, “I’m only good at dieting”, “I’m nothing if I’m not thin”, or “being thin keeps me safe”. Many people with anorexia report all or nothing thinking. This is a thought pattern that plays into maintaining anorexic behavior. CBT helps you to reality-check your thinking patterns.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can help you to focus on the values that matter to you. These values may include honesty, connection, community, or integrity. Oftentimes, clients find that their true values do not line up with the values of the eating disorder, which may endorse dishonesty, isolation, competition or even cruelty. With this contrast in mind, ACT can help you to make choices based upon what you really think is important.
Anorexia Nervosa in Youth And Adolescents: Family Based Therapy (FBT) and Family Systems Therapy
For our younger clients who are struggling with anorexia, family therapy can often be extremely helpful. An eating disorder can affect everyone in the family. In addition, everyone in the family can affect the behavior of someone with an eating disorder. With the help of a family therapist, you can begin to turn arguments about food into real conversations about feelings, stop battling each other and start feeling more connected.
Healing from Anorexia Nervosa
Clients who have worked with us report feeling free. They finally have the headspace to really care about school and work, relationships, and how they feel about themselves. They are comfortable in their bodies and have the energy to do the things they care about. Let the counselors at Monarch Wellness and Psychotherapy help you find freedom from Anorexia.
Begin Eating Disorder Treatment for Anorexia in Washington DC:
Are you ready to take back control of your life from the hold that Anorexia has over it? Our talented therapy team at Monarch Wellness and Psychotherapy can help! We want to support you in your journey to leaving a healthier life and having a positive relationship with food. To begin eating disorder treatment in Washington DC, follow these steps:
- Contact our counseling clinic to learn more about eating disorder treatment or to set up an appointment,
- Meet with one of our compassionate eating disorder counselors,
- Begin counseling and find power over your eating disorder.