Man's feet tied to scale with tape measure signifying need for eating disorder treatment/ Birmingham AL/ 35223

Do I need therapy for eating disorders? By a Birmingham Therapist

Eating disorders are complex illnesses characterized by distressing beliefs about one’s body shape, weight, and food intake. Eating disorders are serious illnesses that can lead to death. They rarely get better on there own. Eating disorders affect individuals of all ages, races, genders, and ethnicities.

What are the signs and symptoms of an Eating Disorder?

Almost 1 in 10 people will have an eating disorder in their lifetime.

The three most common eating disorders are Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa, and Binge eating disorder.  Eating disorders negatively affect almost every organ in the body. Eating disorders can lead to death. In our country, a person dies of an eating disorder every 52 minutes.

Anorexic woman upset/ Eating disorder therapy/ Birmingham Al/ Empower Counseling

Physical Warning Signs of Eating Disorders

Unfortunately, you can not always tell someone has an eating disorder by how they appear. There are some warning signs that an eating disorder may be present:

Dramatic weight loss

Loss of cycle

Compulsive exercise

Visiting the bathroom after meals

Frequent stomach issues

Calluses on hand from self-induced vomiting

Depressed man in  need of therapy/ Empower Counseling/ Birmingham AL

There are also Emotional Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder

Typically an individual with an eating disorder has extreme views and emotions about food, weight, and body shape. Often times an eating disorder is accompanied by another mental health issue like anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, or substance abuse.

Some emotional warning signs that might signify and eating disorder:

Increased mood swings

Isolating from others

High anxiety

Flat Affect-lack of showing emotion

Lack of self-esteem

Behavior changes

As stated previously, there are three main eating disorders. Each has it’s own particular warning signs.

a woman eating 1 cucumber slice in need of therapy for eating disorders/ Birmingham Al/ Empower Counseling

Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia: Therapy for Eating Disorders

People with anorexia tend to have a very low body weight, are very scared of gaining weight, and have a distorted view of how their bodies look. Individuals with anorexia go to great lengths to control their weight like severely restricting their caloric intake, exercising compulsively, use diet aids or laxatives.

Health Risks Associated with Anorexia

Hair thinning and loss

Brittle bones leading to osteoporosis and fractures

Organ damage



Fatigue and exhaustion

Low blood pressure and heart rate


A bulimic woman vomiting/ Counseling for eating disorders Birmingham/ Empower Counseling

Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia

Bulimia nervosa looks like eating large quantities of food quickly, then purging. Individuals purge by vomiting, excessive exercising, or use of laxatives. Often one with Bulimia will also restrict calorie intake during the day which cycles back to binging and purging.

If someone disappears to the bathroom after every meal, that is a major red flag for bulimia. Bulimia can lead to many different health problems.

Health Risks Associated with Bulimia

Pain with swallowing or trouble swallowing

Dental issues

Esophageal ulcers or rupture


Fertility problems

Heart issues


Woman binge eating pizza/ eating disorder therapy needed/ Empower Counseling

Signs and Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is signified by eating large amounts of food quickly, without purging after eating. Individuals with binge eating disorder tend to feel out of control around food. They eat until they are uncomfortably full. Eating typically leads to feelings of guilt and shame. Individuals with binge eating disorder can be normal weight, overweight, or obese.

Health Risks Associated with Binge Eating Disorder

High blood pressure

Weight gain

Type 2 Diabetes

Heart disease

Anxiety and Depression

Perfectionist woman lining up paper clips

Risk Factors for Developing an Eating Disorder

There is no one cause that brings on an eating disorder. Eating disorders can come about through a combination of factors such as psychological, genetic, environmental, and cultural.

If someone in your family has an eating disorder, you may be more likely to develop one as well.

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The psychological risk factors that point to therapy for eating disorders.

If you have anxiety or are a perfectionist you are at risk for developing an eating disorder. Stressful major life events like going to college may increase the risk of developing an eating disorder. If one is highly reactive to stress and does not tolerate being in distress well, one is more likely to develop and eating disorder.

report card with A=

Environmental Risk Factors:

Studies show that one’s environment plays about a 20-50% part in developing an eating disorder. Some of these risk factors are:

Participating in a sport where there is pressure about weight (gymnastics, wresting, etc.)

Pressure to make high grades

Challenging family issues


Pressure for a certain appearance

Perfect looking woman

Cultural Risk Factors

We are bombarded daily in our culture with perfect images, whether on television, in magazines, on internet, and social media. The younger we are exposed to these perfect looking images the more difficult it may be  to cope in a healthy way when viewing these images. Perfectionists are most like to buy into and strive for the “thin ideal”.

Do I need therapy for eating disorders?

The best way to treat an eating disorder is to prevent one. If you have any of the risk factors for an eating disorder, especially perfectionism, it would be a good idea to start therapy. Moving away from anxiety and perfectionism who not only help prevent an eating disorder it could change your dysfunctional thinking and lead to a much more enjoyable life.

If you spend too much of your time thinking about your appearance or food, therapy is a good idea. You may have disordered eating-which means you do not yet have a full blown diagnosable eating disorder but you are in the early stages of developing one. The earlier you begin therapy the better the chance of recovery.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above under the three main types of eating disorders, reach out for help as soon as possible. Find an eating disorder specialist who can assess exactly where you are and determine the standard of care you need for a successful recovery.

a figure that sees a much larger figure in mirror/ Therapy for eating disorders/ Birmingham Al

What Kind of Treatment do I need for an Eating Disorder?

There are different levels of treatment available for eating disorders. The level of treatment necessary depends on the severity of the eating disorder and the mental and physical health issues it has caused.

There are inpatient treatment options, intensive outpatient options for treatment, and outpatient treatment that is not intensive. Because of the complex nature of eating disorders, being evaluated by an eating disorder specialist would be the best way to determine the level of care needed to move toward recovery. Whether in patient or outpatient it might take a team of experts including an eating disorder therapist, a Psychiatrist for medication, and a nutritionist to move toward healing and recovery. The goal of the treatment will be to develop a healthy relationship with food and to be able to eat a variety of foods necessary for the nourishment of the body.

First, find an eating disorder specialist who uses only evidence based types of therapy to evaluate the severity of the disorder and  for the treatment of the disorder. Some therapies that have been proven effective in the treatment of eating disorders:

DBT- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

ACT- Acceptance Commitment Therapy

CBT- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Two beautiful smiling woman after therapy with Empower Counseling

Why Choose Dr. Lucia Haladjian, PhD, for Therapy for Eating Disorders in Birmingham, Alabama?

Dr. Lucia is an eating disorder specialist right here in Mountain Brook, Al. at Empower Counseling.

She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) at Columbia University Health in Manhattan, New York in August 2021. During a three year Fellowship at Columbia, Lucia participated on the Eating Disorder Tract for all three years. Dr, Haladjian knows how to treat eating disorders with scientifically proven methods.

Start therapy for eating Disorders or disordered eating today with Dr. Lucia Haladjian with Empower Counseling in Birmingham.

Therapy for eating disorders is not the only service we offer at our Birmingham Area counseling clinic. Kathryn, Marti, Savannah, and Lucia offer counseling for depression, anxiety counseling, bipolar treatment, women’s issues, trauma, PTSD, and counseling for perfectionism.

We offer our services to teens with teen counseling, counseling for college students at Samford University, The University of Alabama, Auburn University, and all colleges in the state of Alabama, young adults, adults, and professionals.

  1. Start here.
  2. Schedule your appointment with an eating disorder therapist.
  3. Begin on your path to recovery.

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