Eating Disorders

The health care professionals at Hattiesburg Clinic offer personalized and compassionate care for individuals struggling with eating disorders.

Eating Disorders Overview

Eating disorders are characterized by abnormal eating habits that negatively impact a person’s physical and mental well-being. These disorders often involve a preoccupation with food, body weight and shape, leading to unhealthy behaviors and attitudes towards eating, exercise and body image. Eating disorders can affect individuals of any age, but they are most commonly diagnosed during adolescence or young adulthood.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are several types of eating disorders, including:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: People with anorexia nervosa typically perceive themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. They may severely restrict their food intake, engage in excessive exercise and exhibit other behaviors to control their weight. Anorexia can lead to severe malnutrition, organ damage and even death if left untreated.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Bulimia nervosa involves cycles of binge eating followed by purging behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives or diuretics, fasting or excessive exercise. Individuals with bulimia often feel a lack of control over their eating habits and experience intense guilt or shame about their behavior.
  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED): BED is characterized by recurrent episodes of uncontrollable binge eating without the compensatory behaviors seen in bulimia. People with BED may eat large amounts of food in a short period, even when they are not physically hungry, and feel a sense of loss of control during these episodes. This can lead to obesity and related health problems.
  • Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED): This category includes eating disorders that do not meet the specific criteria for anorexia, bulimia or BED but still significantly disrupt a person’s life. Examples include atypical anorexia nervosa (where a person may have symptoms of anorexia but not meet the weight criteria), purging disorder (engaging in purging behaviors without binge eating), and night eating syndrome (consuming a large portion of daily food intake during the evening or nighttime).

Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can have various signs and symptoms depending on the specific disorder, including:

  • Preoccupation with food, weight, and body image: Constantly thinking about food, calories, dieting and weight loss/gain
  • Extreme dieting behaviors: Following extremely restrictive diets, such as fasting, severely limiting calorie intake or cutting out entire food groups
  • Changes in weight: Rapid weight loss or gain, fluctuations in weight or frequent changes in clothing size
  • Distorted body image: Perceiving one’s body inaccurately, often seeing oneself as overweight even when underweight
  • Obsessive rituals around food: Engaging in rituals around mealtime, such as cutting food into tiny pieces, excessive chewing or arranging food in a particular way without eating it
  • Social withdrawal: Avoiding social situations that involve food, isolating oneself or becoming secretive about eating habits
  • Physical symptoms: Including dizziness, fatigue, weakness, fainting, headaches, hair loss, dry skin and feeling cold all the time
  • Digestive problems: Constipation, bloating, abdominal pain or irregular bowel movements
  • Mood changes: Mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety or heightened sensitivity to criticism
  • Excessive exercise: Compulsive or excessive exercise routines, often driven by a desire to burn off calories consumed or to control weight
  • Hoarding food: Hiding food, collecting recipes or hoarding food in unusual places
  • Loss of menstruation: In females, irregular or absent menstrual periods (amenorrhea), which can be a sign of malnutrition

Treatment for Eating Disorders

Treatment for eating disorders typically involves a multidisciplinary approach, including medical management, nutritional counseling, psychotherapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy) and sometimes medications. Early intervention is crucial for recovery, as eating disorders can have serious long-term consequences if left untreated, including nutritional deficiencies, heart problems, gastrointestinal issues and mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.

Connect With Our Team

Eating disorders can have severe physical and psychological consequences if left untreated. If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, trust the experts at Hattiesburg Clinic to help guide you through treatment and recovery. We offer a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to each patient’s individual needs.

Hattiesburg, MS
Psychiatry - Lincoln Center
Hattiesburg Clinic - Lincoln Center
1 Lincoln Pkwy.
Ste. 304
Hattiesburg, MS 39402
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Monday - Thursday
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Psychology & Counseling
Hattiesburg, MS
Psychology & Counseling
102 Medical Park
Hattiesburg, MS 39401
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Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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