Health & Fitness

How Online Therapy Can Help With Eating Disorders

An eating disorder can occur at any point in someone’s life, regardless of age, gender, or background. While not strictly exclusive of, eating disorders can often stem from past trauma, as well as current stress factors over which one feels they have no control. Coupled with the toxic effects of modern culture’s standards of health and beauty, one’s relationship to food can be anything but simple or straightforward.

Eating disorders reveal themselves in abnormal eating habits, usually resulting in a dangerously altered physical appearance and diminished state of health and wellbeing. While there are many types of eating disorders, the three most common are:

  1. Anorexia Nervosa

Perhaps the most well known, anorexia is punctuated by a pronounced and dangerous lack of food intake, as well as constant panic that one is overweight, even if all evidence points to the opposite. Anorexia occurs more frequently in prepubescent girls, and is typically divided into two subtypes, a) binging and purging and b) restrictive (little to no food intake).

  1. Bulimia Nervosa

Much like anorexia, bulimia is known to develop during the adolescent years of young women, and follows many of the same patterns of anorexia. Bulimia occurs when one eats to a painfully degree of feeling full, then purges through induced vomiting, extreme exercise, laxative abuse, enemas, or fasting.

  1. Binge Eating

Binge eating is believed to be one of the most widespread eating disorders, and occurs when one consumes a large amount of food, even if they’re not hungry, in unscheduled spurts. This behavior is typically followed by feelings of guilt and shame, but without the compensation measures of purging.

All of the above are usually accompanied by obsessive compulsive tendencies to count calories, hoard food items, collect recipes, and agonize over perceived weight gain. Fear or discomfort of eating in public may also be present.

Other eating disorders can include night eating, avoidant or restrictive food intake disorder, rumination disorder, and pica.

It cannot be stressed enough that an eating disorder is not a fad or momentary trend; those who are truly affected by an eating disorder, be it binging or anorexia, place themselves in serious danger, if not at risk of death. An untreated eating disorder can lead to a lifetime of physical and mental health problems, including drastic bone density depletion, heart failure, weakened muscles, gastrointestinal complications, hair loss, neurological damage, and tooth decay (especially if purging through vomiting). It is extremely important that you seek professional help by way of therapy and nutritional guidance, but may be intimidated by the prospect of seeking an in-office counselor. Perhaps you are embarrassed to speak in person, or have scheduling and/or transportation conflicts; there are many reasons one may pursue an alternative method of treatment, and fortunately online therapy is just one of the many advances in modern medicine and outreach.

Below are some common questions and answers regarding everything you’ve wanted to know about online therapy, and whether it’s right for confronting and treating an existing or potential eating disorder.

  1. What Exactly Is Online Therapy?

Online therapy is, in more ways than not, just like in-office therapy, only instead of visiting a brick-and-mortar building, sessions are conducted via a secure web chat. This enables you to speak with your therapist from the privacy of your own home or work, around a flexible timeframe of your choosing.

Upon visiting an online therapy service, such as, you will be shown a directory of prospective therapists specializing in all fields of physical and mental health, including eating disorder treatment and nutrition. Once you pick your therapist of choice, the two of you can converse at no charge until you schedule a session, at which point you will star being charged.

  1. What Are The Benefits Of An Online Therapist For My Eating Disorder?

As with any extremely personal health issue, not everyone struggling with an eating disorder feels comfortable meeting in person or potentially being seen attending therapy. Online counseling is both discreet and absolutely verified, so you know you’re receiving top tier treatment at no cost to your privacy or comfort.

Additionally, online therapy is ideal for those with conflicting scheduling commitments or difficulties procuring transportation.

  1. What Are The Cons To Online Therapy For My Eating Disorder?

Everyone differs in what they look for in a therapist, and ultimately it’s a matter of what your needs are. If you prefer to speak to a professional in person, then online therapy may not be the right course for you. You would also need to be aware that many therapists charge for the cost of the session if you cancel outside of the window, as they operate the same as an in-office practice.

  1. Will I Still Get The Same Quality Of Therapy As An In-Office Session?

Absolutely. All online therapists are fully licensed and verified, with ratings you will be able to review before making your selection. Your online session will be conducted exactly the same way as an in-person one would, with real-time discourse. You will also be given the ability to contact your therapist outside of structured sessions.

  1. What Should I Know Before Choosing The Online Therapist That’s Right For Me?

Eating disorders can stem from a number of underlying factors, and reveal themselves in just as many ways. It’s important to choose a counselor who specializes in the field of eating disorders, as well as nutrition, so you can receive a well-rounded treatment regime. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask your prospective therapist any questions you may have ahead of time, as well as voice any concerns. Remember, they’re there to help you, from the very first step to the last.

It’s estimated that 30 million US people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder. You are not alone in your struggles, and help is literally at your fingertips thanks to the online counseling services available today. With online therapy you can receive the treatment you need without sacrificing your need for privacy, discretion, and comfort.

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