“Living with an eating disorder takes extraordinary fortitude. And when that energy can be circumvented in a different way, incredible things happen.” —Anonymous
Eating Disorder Therapy in Birmingham, AL
In our country, over thirty million individuals suffer from eating disorders. One person dies every 52 minutes as a result of an eating disorder in the United States.
Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of all of the diagnosable mental health issues. Eating Disorders are progressive illnesses that get worse over time if they go untreated. Beginning treatment as early as possible means a better chance at recovery.
Dr. Lucia Haladjian, PhD with Empower Counseling is an Eating Disorder Specialist in Birmingham, Alabama.
Lucia spent a 3 year Fellowship at Columbia University Health in New York studying on the Eating Disorder Tract.
How Do I Know I Need Eating Disorder Therapy
If you struggle with a negative body image, are obsessive about food, or strive for perfection in any area of life, therapy is a good idea. Often individuals with eating disorders struggle with other issues before having a full-blown eating disorder. So, if you suffer from:
- Low self-esteem
- Body image issues
- Obsessive thoughts concerning food, eating, or appearance
- Comparisons to others
Basically, if you can say “yes” to any of the risk factors that lead to eating disorders, don’t wait to have an eating disorder to get treatment. If you have a relationship with food that takes up too much of your life, you may have disordered eating, maybe not a full-blown eating disorder. Start therapy now with an Eating Disorder Specialist and prevent yourself from establishing a full-blown eating disorder. The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome.
Eating Disorders Shrink Your Life. They can make you feel like your entire life revolves around managing food and your appearance.
An eating disorder comes with feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment. Much of your life is lived in secret, whether consumed with your own thoughts or spending your time counting calories, exercising, or concealing your purging. Nothing about having an eating disorder feels good. No matter what you do, you don’t like what you see or who you are.
Your life does not have to look or feel this way any longer. Dr. Lucia Haladjian, a therapist in Birmingham, Al. specializing in therapy for eat disorders is here to help you now. She has a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, as well as, a Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology. She spent a three-year fellowship at Columbia University on the Eating Disorder Tract. She knows how to help individuals experiencing disordered eating and Eating Disorders.
Eating Disorders Are Difficult and Complex Issues
According to the National Institute of Mental Health:
More than half of adults 18 and up assessed by NIMH with anorexia Nervosa also had anxiety or another diagnosable disorder.
Over 80% of respondents with Bulimia Nervosa also had an anxiety disorder, with 95% of those individuals with Bulimia Nervosa having some other diagnosable mental health issue.
Seventy-nine percent of those with Binge-Eating Disorder suffered with anxiety disorders or another mental health issue.
Eating disorders often co-occur with trauma, substance abuse, personality disorders, and other diagnosable mental health issues. Because of the complicated nature of eating disorders, it is best to see a therapist who has special training in therapy for eating disorders. Eating disorders are very difficult to manage or overcome on your own. The earlier you seek treatment, the better the chance of recovery.
What Causes an Eating Disorder?
Due to the complex nature of eating disorders, no one fully understand what causes them.
Experts believe that eating disorders are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, genetic, and social factors. Often controlling food and food intake is a way of self-medicating, a way to manage pain and gain a feeling of control.
Most eating disorders involve focusing too much on weight, body shape, and food.
Certain circumstances, in which comparisons and body image issues are at the forefront, can lead to eating disorders.
Eating disorders are more likely to occur in people who have parents or siblings who’ve had an eating disorder. Even though we do not completely understand what causes eating disorder, there are certain risk factors that make the occurrence of an eating disorder more likely.
Risk FactorsSome risk factors for developing an eating disorder are:
- Abuse and trauma
- Playing a sport that puts great emphasis on size or weight (Ballet, gymnastics, wrestling, etc.)
- Low self-esteem
- Poor Body Image
- Social or familial pressure to be thin
- Difficulties coping with stress or anxiety
- Challenges in relationships
- Type 1 Diabetes
The latest research conducted by the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative or ANGI does not imply that there is an eating disorder gene or that genes even cause eating disorders. Individuals can inherit traits like perfectionism, anxiety, or fear that can become risk factors for developing an eating disorder.
Environmental risk factors for the development of an eating disorder are:
- Diet culture
- The media
- Weight teasing
What are the Symptoms of Eating Disorders?Symptoms vary depending on the type of eating disorder. The most commonly seen eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Bing-Eating Disorder.
Anorexia is a serious, life-threatening disorder. Anorexia usually involves using extreme efforts to control weight and the shape of the body. The symptoms of anorexia are an unhealthy low body weight, along with an intense fear of gaining any weight. Anorexia typically involves severely limiting caloric intake and cutting out certain foods or food groups altogether.
Some other symptoms of Anorexia are:
- Dramatic weight loss
- Sudden interest in weight loss diets
- Compulsive or excessive exercise
- Feeling overweight despite weight loss
- Noticeable distress around food
- Distorted body image
- Anorexia might also involve using laxatives and diet aides to lose weight, or vomiting after eating.
- Those with Anorexia often have dry hair and skin and suffer hair loss.
Other health consequences of Anorexia include:
- Heart failure due to slowed heart rate and low blood pressure
- Fatigue and fainting
- Osteoporosis- dry, brittle bones
- Muscle loss and weakness
- Severe dehydration and kidney failure
- Anorexia, if untreated, can also lead to death.
Bulimia or Bulimia Nervosa is also a serious disorder which can be life-threatening as well. Bulimia often includes binging or overeating followed by purging. Bulimia can also look like severely restricting caloric intake which often leads to binge eating and purging. Whereas Anorexia can be seen as extreme control, individuals with Bulimia feel like they have no control over their eating and do not know how to stop. Purging comes after feelings of guilt and shame, and fear of weight gain. Purging can come in the form of vomiting, but it can also look like exercising too much, starving for a time period, or taking laxatives.
Bulimia is usually accompanied by preoccupation with body shape, weight, and harsh self-criticism. It can lead to sever health problems and even death.
Some health issues associated with Bulimia are:
- Electrolyte imbalances that lead to irregular heartbeats and heart failure
- Gastric Rupture
- Rupture of the esophagus
- Tooth decay
- Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation
- Peptic Ulcers and pancreatitis
Binge-Eating Disorder is eating food quickly in a short amount of time. When someone is binge eating they feel out of control. The difference between Bulimia and Binge-Eating Disorder is that with Binge-Eating Disorder there is no purging. Typically, with binge eating, individuals keep eating past the point of feeling full and eat when not hungry. Binge-eating typically comes with guilt, shame, or disgust. Someone binge-eating might also try to starve for a period of time, but this usually results in further binge eating. Bingeing often comes with embarrassment that might lead to eating alone or in secret.
Many of the health risks of binge-eating are the same as the health risks associated with obesity, including:
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Gallbladder disease
Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder is exactly what it sounds like … extremely limited eating or not eating certain foods. This way of eating often does not meet minimum nutrition requirements. Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder can cause problems with growth, development, and healthy functioning of the body. Those with this disorder do not usually focus too much on body size or shape or even weight gain. Instead, this issue is more about avoiding foods because of texture, smell, taste, or even color. Sometimes, individuals with this issue have a fear of choking when they eat.
This disorder is more common in younger children.
Don’t Wait to Start Eating Disorder Treatment
If you are suffering symptoms of an eating disorder, contact a therapist who specializes in treating eating disorders immediately. One person dies every 52 minutes as a result of an eating disorder in the United States. The statistics are alarming, but recovery from eating disorders is possible if you receive proper treatment.
How do I know who to Trust for Eating Disorder Treatment?
Proper eating disorder treatment is specialized. I would not go to just any counselor or therapist for treatment of an eating disorder. Look for an eating disorder specialist in Birmingham, Al. An eating disorder specialist will have specific training and experience in the area of eating disorders.
Dr. Lucia Haladjian, PhD with Empower Counseling is an Eating Disorder Specialist in Birmingham, Alabama.
Lucia spent a 3 year Fellowship at Columbia University Health in New York on the Eating Disorder Tract.
Why Dr. Lucia Halajian should be your Eating Disorder Therapist in Birmingham, AL.
Dr. Lucia Haladjian joined Empower Counseling & Coaching in January 2024. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) at Columbia University Health in Manhattan, New York in August 2021.
Lucia spent one year of her Fellowship at Columbia on the eating disorder tract and trauma tract. Dr. Haladjian then spent the 2 additional years of her fellowship on the eating disorder track.
Thereafter, she worked as a Clinical Psychologist on staff at CPS until August 2023. She completed a pre-doctoral internship at a community mental health clinic, Hamilton-Madison House with a rotation at Gracie-Square Hospital at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She has engaged in clinical and research externships at the Rosemary Furman Counseling Center at Barnard College, Personal Counseling at Brooklyn College and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine.
She has experience working with children, adolescents, and adults in partial, inpatient, and outpatient settings. Her specialized training includes psychodynamic interpersonal and relational therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and cognitive behavioral (CBT) approaches for individuals coping with eating disorders, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
- PhD in Clinical Psychology, Fielding Graduate University
- MA in Clinical Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University
- BA in Psychology and Photography, Hampshire College
- Clinical Staff Psychologist, Counseling and Psychological Services, Columbia University
- Post-doctoral Fellowship, Counseling and Psychological Services, Columbia University
- Pre-doctoral Intern, Hamilton-Madison House with a rotation at Gracie Square Hospital, New York Presbyterian Hospital
- Pre-doctoral Extern, Personal Counseling, Brooklyn College
- Pre-doctoral Extern, Rosemary Furman Counseling Center, Barnard College
- Research Extern and Coordinator, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medicine
- American Psychological Association
- Armenian Mental Health Association
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