Eating Disorder Treatment – Psychology Gold Coast

An eating disorder/body image disorder is a serious mental illnesses in which can also link to other severe mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Negative thought patterns and feelings surrounding one’s physical image can create unwanted body image perceptions usually influenced by one/multiple external factors which in cause may lead to a severe eating disorder. It can affect anyone of any age, sex or background. Psychological and medical treatment (if necessary) should be actioned as early as possible to prevent further damage to own physical health and wellbeing as well as surrounding family and friends.

View the different types of eating disorders below:

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is a diagnosed disorder for those suffering a continuous, restricted calorie intake diet due to a fear of weight gain. Sufferers of this illness encounter quite a drastic, distorted view of their physical appearance as opposed to what they actually look like or how others would view them, ie; they would consider themselves to be overweight when in fact they are dangerously underweight. Once this extreme diet has caused those to become dangerously underweight and malnourished, they still hold the fear of weight gain as the fear dwells in their minds, trapping them into an unwanted negative thought pattern.

Signs & symptoms:

  • Low self worth
  • Distorted view of their own appearance
  • A considerably large amount of weight loss within a very short time frame
  • Excessive exercise
  • Counting calories and avoiding food groups such as carbohydrates and fats
  • Loss or imbalance of menstruation in females
  • Laxative intakes
  • Constipation, bloating, feeling lethargic
  • Poor blood circulation causing cold sensations in any temperature
  • Decreased libido
  • Feeling light-headed, dizzy or possibly fainting due to low energy levels
  • Pale skin and sunken eyes
Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is caused by an underlying issue of severe obsession with one’s diet habits. The illness involves a repetition of uncontrollable binge eating episodes even when the person may feel shame or guilt about their behaviours. This then causes sufferers to hide their eating habits, allowing their mind set to last for very long periods of time as it often goes unnoticed by others. It transforms a person’s perspective on food, dieting, weight and body image. People will not usually lose or gain too much weight as it is mostly fluctuations that occur keeping them at a level of a normal weight range due to other ongoing habits.

Signs & symptoms:

  • Obsession with types of food, eating, body image distortion/dissatisfaction and weight
  • Low self esteem, feeling guilty and shameful after eating
  • Binge eating episodes
  • Constant weight fluctuations
  • Experience other mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and irritability
  • Constant vomiting and it’s consequences; damage to oral health, swelling of face
  • Consuming laxatives or other medication designed to suppress apetite
  • Loss or imbalance of menstrual cycles in females
  • Lethargic, light-headed sensations
  • Hiding habits, keeping their meals secretive from others
  • Excessive exercising
  • Excessive spending on food
  • Can lead to self harm or suicidal attempts
Binge Eating Disorder

As opposed to Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder does not involve self-induced habits after eating such as vomiting, excessive exercising or the intake of laxatives. However, similarly people who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder also develop feelings of shame and guilt surrounding their food and eating habits. For most people, excessive eating is a way to cope with other issues such as stress, boredom or other significant emotions leading to the intake of large amounts of food every 2 hours or less even if they are not hungry to the point they may feel very uncomfortable. Sufferers from this illness will also experience becoming secretive about their eating habits and lying about the amount of food they have ate.

Signs & symptoms:

  • Eating large portions of food every 2 hours or less
  • Unable to control their desire to eat
  • Secretive about eating habits and intake
  • Choosing to eat alone rather than with others
  • Feelings of lazziness, tiredness and imbalanced sleeping patterns
  • Dissatisfaction with self image and shameful about weight and appearance causing low self esteem
  • Feelings of guilt and sadness after eating large portions
  • Hiding food wrappings after consuming from others
  • Excessive spending on food
  • Can lead to self harm or suicidal attempts

Orthorexia is the obsessive desire to ensure what you eat is ‘healthy’. This type of mental illness far exceeds the point of normalised concerns for the quality and nutrition of your food leading to more serious damage on their own wellbeing and mental health state. It is not uncommon for people who suffer from Orthorexia to also suffer from OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).

Signs & symptoms:

  • Some body image concerns
  • Refusal or hesitation to consume food without knowing exactly what is included in the ingredients
  • Refusal to eat any foods that may contain sugar, carbohydrates or animal products
  • Obsessive concern with nutritional value in every ingredient
  • Growing concerns of the food others are eating as well as their own
  • Worrying, becoming anxious and distressed about what food they may eat at a particular place/event in case there is nothing ‘healthy’ there
  • Obsessed with watching and using other people as ‘healthy’ examples via social media or those that surround them
Muscle Dysmorphia

Muscle Dysmorphia is the compulsive disorder of wanting to be more ‘muscular’ to improve self body perception. Similar to Anorexia Nervosa, sufferers become obsessed with the belief that they are different to what they actually appear, however it is on the very opposite end of the spectrum, i.e; they believe they are skinny regardless of how big their muscles actually are.

Signs & symptoms:

  • Constantly worried they are not muscular enough
  • A fear of losing muscle due to weight loss
  • Excessive exercise in order to maintain or build more muscle
  • Fear of not being able to exercise due to other activities/events
  • Changing food and diet habits to an unrealistic/unneccessary level in order to manage muscular growth
  • Inability to consume anything that may impact the body in an unhealthy matter as it may affect exercise
Treatment Options

At Vitality Unleashed Psychology, we are experienced with treating all types of Eating Disorders in a way that is managed and tailored specifically to each individual’s unique presentation.

Treatment may include the following types of therapy:

  • Psychoeducation
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Mindfulness Therapy
  • Schema Therapy

From Nov 1, 2019, an Eating Disorder Management Plan (EDMP) is available from your local GP. This EDMP plan allows you to receive the Medicare rebate ($126.50 for Clinical Psychologist sessions) for 40 psychology sessions per year upon each visit at our clinic. Additionally, this plan will also provide you a Medicare rebate for 20 dietician sessions per year (you will need to contact your dietician to find out what the session cost/rebate will be).

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