Allenmore Psychological Associates remains OPEN. During this period of concern and anxiety having access to quality behavioral health care is important and our staff is dedicated to ensuring your behavioral health care needs are met. In the unlikely event that the WA Department of Health directs us to close we will notify patients via telephone on the day of their appointment (similar to our Snow Day policy). If you are an existing patient who is demonstrating symptoms associated with the coronavirus or impacted by related closures (e.g. cannot find day care due to a school closure) and need to cancel we ask that you inform our staff as soon as possible, APA will not charge you for a late cancellation.

Eating Disorders

Everyday in our culture, we are bombarded by messages and images telling us to be thin. We are taught through the media that looking a certain way (for instance, being thin, young and attractive) is the gateway to a happy life. While it is natural to think about maintaining a healthy weight through eating nutritious foods and exercising, people with eating disorders become preoccupied with these things and find it difficult to focus on anything else. They often take these principles to the extreme by altering their lifestyle to maintain their obsession with food, exercising, weight and looking a certain way.

Many people would be surprised to know how many individuals experience disordered eating. It is estimated that approximately 24 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder. Eating disorders afflict both women and men of all ages. While it is typical that eating disorders begin during adolescence, it is possible for eating disorders to begin in adulthood. Additionally, eating disorders can co-occur with other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder. Often times, people with disordered eating have relationship concerns, problems at work or school, difficulty focusing and concentrating, sleep disturbance and experience general dissatisfaction with their lives.

It is important to understand that people afflicted with eating disorders are not alone and that help is available. With treatment, many people experience relief from their eating disorders, as well as improvement in the other emotional problems that often accompany an eating disorder. Treatment is available at Allenmore Psychological Associates in Tacoma to help you or someone you care about learn the skills and techniques needed to effectively overcome disordered eating.

What are the Symptoms of an Eating Disorder?

There are three main types of eating disorders described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Each disorder has a unique set of symptoms, which are summarized below:

Anorexia Nervosa
  • Restriction of food intake which leads to a body weight that is below normal
  • Extreme fear of gaining weight or becoming fat which results in persistent behaviors that interfere with weight gain
  • Distorted perception of weight or body shape, such as seeing oneself as overweight when one is actually thin
Bulimia Nervosa
  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating, i.e. consuming an amount of food that is larger than what most other people would eat in a similar time frame
  • Sense of lack of control over eating behaviors during the binge episodes
  • Recurrent behaviors are performed to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or excessive exercise
  • Self-esteem is determined by body shape and weight.
Binge-Eating Disorder
  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating (as defined left) at least once per week for a period of 3 months
  • Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry
  • Eating alone or in secret because of feeling embarrassed about the volume of food is being eaten
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself
  • Feeling depressed or guilty after bingeing
  • Behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse, are not performed as they are with bulimia nervosa

What Can Be Done to Help People with Eating Disorders?

At Allenmore Psychological Associates, we understand that all individuals are unique and no two individuals experience an eating disorder in entirely the same way. Therefore, each client’s treatment is tailored to meet their specific needs. We incorporate the individual’s personal history, strengths and belief system into the treatment plan. We also understand that people are often ashamed or embarrassed about experiencing an eating disorder. Therefore, it is important to develop a trusting and supportive relationship with our clients in order to work together to effectively treat these issues.

While each type of eating disorder has different symptoms, the common feature of most eating disorders is that they are used as a coping mechanism. A person with an eating disorder may experience poor self-esteem, low self-worth, difficulty with emotional experiences, relationship or family problems, sense of loss of control, anxiety, and many other types of problems. Often an eating disorder serves the purpose of helping the individual cope with these issues, as well as, of denying and distracting from their feelings about these issues. Therefore, the goal of treatment may be to fully understand disordered eating behaviors and the purposes served by this behavior, and how these issues can be dealt with in a healthier manner. It is important to then develop alternative coping skills and work towards positive change. Treatment may include problem-solving, exploring relationship patterns, developing positive belief systems, and understanding how one’s mood and behaviors are connected.

Some people with eating disorders can see improvement after only a few counseling sessions, while others with more long-standing unhealthy disordered eating behaviors may require longer counseling treatment. Additionally, it may be necessary to incorporate psychotropic medication into the treatment process. Our Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNP) is highly skilled at assessing individuals for psychotropic medications to treat a variety of mental health conditions.

We’re Here To Help

At Allenmore Psychological Associates, we have over three decades of experience treating a wide range of eating disorders and associated mental health problems. We understand the negative impact that eating disorders can have on your life, and the counselors at Allenmore are committed to helping you overcome these challenges. For more information about eating disorder treatment available at Allenmore Psychological Associates, or to schedule an initial appointment with one of our skilled counselors, please call (253) 752-7320.

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