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Eating Disorders

Leann Casto – LCSW

LeAnn has over 30 yrs experience treating depression, anxiety, personality disorders, addictions, couples, individuals, and children. LeAnn believes the work between client and therapist is a collaboration and further believes that one can't change a problem without truly understanding the problem and the person having it. She does psychodynamic, cognitive, educative, and supportive work to help her clients change and grow.

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Eating disorders affect the quality of life, health, and well-being of millions of Americans. As devastating as these conditions are, symptoms may be difficult to recognize. Early detection and treatment are the best indicators for successful recovery.

Anorexia Treatment at Family Counseling Center in Salt Lake City UT

Some early warning signs of an eating disorder are:

  • Significant decrease in weight which is not related to a medical condition
  • Development of abnormal eating habits such as severe dieting and withdrawn or ritualized eating
  • Intense preoccupation with food, weight, or body image
  • Compulsive or excessive exercising
  • Periods of fasting, self-induced vomiting, laxative, diet pill or diuretic abuse
  • Feelings of increased isolation, depression, or irritability

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can be extremely dangerous. If you or a loved one is struggling with these symptoms, contact us in Salt Lake City at (801) 261-3500.

Understanding Anorexia and Bulimia


Anorexia Nervosa: Anorectics restrict their caloric intake for long periods of time and deliberately starve themselves, resulting in loss of body weight of at least 15 percent. Weight loss is achieved by avoiding food, frenzied exercise, vomiting, laxatives and other means. Other characteristics of anorexia nervosa are an intense fear of becoming obese and distorted body image.

Bulimia Nervosa: A cyclic pattern of binge eating associated with some type of purging describes bulimia nervosa. Purging takes on several different forms: fasting, self-induced vomiting, excessive exercising or use of substances to speed up or ease digestion.

Bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are often present together. These disorders are prevalent among women, especially between the ages of 12 and 30. One in 150 females suffers from anorexia nervosa, and recent studies on college campuses show that almost 20 percent of college females have bulimia nervosa.

What are Some Danger Signs of an Eating Disorder?

  • Caloric restriction, binge eating and secretive eating.
  • Extreme preoccupation with food (preparing food for others, shopping for others, reading recipes and food magazines, thinking and dreaming about food or binge eating).
  • Distorted body image (claiming to feel fat when one is emaciated).
  • Abuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas and diet pills.
  • Inordinate amounts of exercise.

Eating Disorders are Hazardous to Your Health


Eating Disorders can be extremely dangerous. Serious medical complications include sore throats and painful swelling of the cheeks in individuals who vomit frequently as well as tooth decay, loss of enamel and gum disease.

In serious cases, the body suffers from heart and kidney damage. The stomach can rupture, one can contract frequent urinary infections and suffer osteoporosis (the thinning of bones). Finally, menstrual irregularities and difficulties are also common in women with eating disorders.

How Does an Eating Disorder Develop?


Most researchers agree that eating disorders are an expression of unresolved psychological conflict. The psychological conflict an individual is experiencing may be a result of traumatic life experiences such as physical or sexual abuse or any other life experiences that leave the individual feeling flawed and defective.

Eating Disorders are a Form of Substance Abuse


Eating disorders are a form of substance abuse, and individuals who struggle with them appear to go through similar addictive cycles as those who suffer with drug and alcohol abuse. An obsession with food and dieting often becomes a way in which these individuals alleviate inner distress. In other words, their eating disorder becomes a diversion from negative thoughts or negative life experiences. By subordinating their actions to the goal of weight loss, victims believe (consciously or unconsciously) that they can bring structure and meaning to a world that they feel to be otherwise chaotic and beyond their control. Ironically, by pouring their talents and energies into dieting, some eating-disorder victims do become totally out of control.