Eating Disorder Psychologist Sydney

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Eating Disorder Psychologist In Sydney: In-person & Online Sessions Available

Eating disorder clinic In Sydney offering therapy for eating disorders, anorexia, binge eating, bulimia, body dysmorphic disorder & body image issues

Eating Disorders & Body Dysmorphia - What Are They?

Eating Disorders

An eating disorder, which can take many forms, typically involves an unhealthy preoccupation with eating, exercise and/or body weight and shape. If you know someone who is fixated on their weight, has strange eating rituals or is secretive about their bathroom visits after meals, this person may be dealing with an eating disorder. 

Eating disorders are estimated to affect approximately 4 in every 100 people in Australia. If they are not treated they can have serious effects on health and even result in death if not treated.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

With body dysmorphic disorder people spend much of their time (around 3-8 hours a day) thinking about parts of appearance that they feel are unattractive or odd. The most common things people worry about are hair, nose, and skin. However, any area of the body can be a cause for worry.

In addition to being concerned with aspects of appearance, people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder engage in various repetitive behaviours and mental acts. These may include but are not limited to mirror checking, skin picking, excessive hair grooming, reassurance-seeking, and comparing appearance to others.

Most people are dissatisfied with some part(s) of their appearance. However, in Body Dysmorphic Disorder, this dissatisfaction leads to great distress and causes disturbance in a person’s life. For example, many individuals with the condition are unable to fully maintain study/work and relationship commitments because of their appearance concerns.

Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia People with anorexia nervosa may be severely underweight, preoccupied with food and scared of putting on weight. They typically develop unsustainable and unhealthy habits around diet and exercise, while seeing themselves as overweight.

Binge Eating Those with binge eating disorder have recurring episodes of uncontrolled, often excessive eating. After a binge, it is common for them to feel ashamed and guilty. It’s a serious illness and comprises half of the occurrences of eating disorders

Bulimia – in the case of bulimia nervosa, it typically consists of consuming large amounts of food in an uncontrolled fashion. It is similar to binge eating disorder however in bulimia people go a step further and get rid of the food in various ways right after eating. They do this by purposely vomiting or ‘purging’. They can also use other methods like excessive exercise, fasting, diets pills or fat burners to compensate for the amount of food they have consumed.

Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) – A person with OSFED has many of the symptoms of other eating disorders (e.g., anorexia, bulimia, binge eating) but their condition doesn’t fit within any specific diagnostic category. One-third of people who seek treatment for an eating disorder have OSFED.

Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders & Body Dysmorphia

Eating Disorders:

  • Binge Eating: consuming large amounts of food in a way that is compulsive and out of control.
  • Excessive dieting: restricting calories, avoiding meals or certain foods, playing with food and having unusual habits
  • Compulsive exercise – exercising to an extreme degree to compulsively burn calories
  • Vomiting and purging – self brought on vomiting, using laxatives, fat burners, diuretics or other medications to induce weight loss
  • Social avoidance – skipping certain social occasions where there is food and may prefer to eat in private. May skip events in general as to not be physically seen.
  • Disrupted hormones and menstrual cycles
  • Changes in weight
  • Feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth

Body Dysmorphic Disorder:

  • Excessive thinking about parts of appearance that they feel are unattractive or odd
  • Mirror checking, skin picking
  • Excessive hair grooming 
  • Reassurance-seeking
  • Comparing appearance to others
  • Excessive time grooming
  • Excessive exercise
  • Altering appearance with plastic surgery or dieting
  • Self-harm
  • Avoidance of social events

What Causes Eating Disorders & Body Dysmorphia

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are typically a result of a combination of factors. These can include genetics and environment like upbringing. Other factors can be traumatic events such as bullying, abuse (physical, emotional or sexual) and the death of a loved one.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Seen in around 2% of the general population, it typically comes on in adolescence, around the age of 16. There is no one cause of the condition, however, it is believed to run in families (genetic) and has been linked to childhood neglect and bullying (environmental).

Eating Disorders & Body Dysmorphia Treatment

Eating Disorders

a girl seeing an eating disorder psychologist sydneyPsychotherapy with a psychologist is one of the most effective methods of treating eating disorders. Methods that are typically used are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) which involve recognising and changing unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and behaviours.

In addition, eating disorders can be addressed with nutrition education for both the individual as well as support and education for the person’s family also so they can better help and cater for the person with a disorder. This can be aided with the help of a GP and/or psychologist.

An eating disorder psychologist in Sydney or online, who specialises in the these issues can be an effective treatment and something worth exploring

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be helpful in a wide range of psychiatric conditions including Body Dysmorphic Disorder. As mentioned above CBT helps people to notice and change unhelpful thoughts (i.e. cognitions) and behaviours. For Body Dysmorphic Disorder, CBT involves a person challenging the distress-causing beliefs they hold about their appearance. In addition, a CBT therapist will help a person to reduce the repetitive behaviours and mental acts that they engage in because of their appearance concerns. This, in turn, lessens a person’s symptoms and frees them up to engage in other more meaningful pursuits.  

Reference:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

An eating disorder psychologist in Sydney or online, who specialises in the these issues can be an effective treatment and something worth exploring.

Get Help Today With An Eating Disorder Psychologist In Sydney Or Online

Visiting an eating disorder clinic in Sydney like ours could be of great help

We are psychologists in North Sydney who treat eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT). Get in touch to learn more.

Looking for an eating disorder psychologist in the Northern Beaches? Our Principal Psychologist Mitchell proudly serves the Beaches which is where he grew up. Get in touch to chat to us:

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