Pica And Other Types Of Eating Disorders

Pica is when a person craves or eats nonfood items like sand, ice chips, dirt, clay, hair, burnt matches, chalk, soap, coins, or paint chips. Most medical guides consider pica as an eating disorder. Some pregnant women will develop pica during pregnancy. We will discuss what pica is and other types of eating disorders and what you can do to treat them.

Pica will usually develop in people with mental health conditions, but not all people who suffer from pica have a mental health condition. Pica is more common to show in children and pregnant women. Children will often hide the behavior from their parents or caregivers. Other groups that are a high risk for developing pica include autistic people, people with other developmental conditions, pregnant women, people from nations where dirt-eating is common. Pica is different from healthy behaviors of babies and young children who put objects in their mouths, and they will persistently try to eat nonfood items. They will also develop other symptoms, including broken or damaged teeth, stomach pains, bloody stool, nutrient deficits (low iron, hematocrit, or hemoglobin), and/or lead poisoning.

There are also other types of eating disorders such as:
Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa is a condition that typically develops during adolescence or early adulthood. Studies show it is more common in women than men. They tend to devour large quantities of food very quickly, and then takes steps to purge their body of the extra calories. Standard purging methods include self-induced vomiting, taking diuretics, taking laxatives, or excessive amounts of exercise. Signs and symptoms of bulimia can include:

  • obsession with body weight and size
  • repeat binging episodes that accompany a sense of loss of control
  • purging episodes to prevent weight gain
  • a general fear of gaining weight
  • acid reflux
  • a sore or inflamed throat
  • tooth decay
  • severe dehydration
  • electrolyte imbalance that can lead to stroke or heart attack

Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia is one of the more well-known eating disorders that tend to develop in adolescence or early adulthood and is more common in women than men. There are two subtypes of anorexia:

  • Binge Eating and Purging Type: An individual with this type usually purges after eating. They will consume large amounts of food and might try to excessively exercise to burn off the calories they consumed.
  • Restricting Type: People with this type do not binge eat. They will turn to dieting, fasting, or overexercising in an effort to lose weight.
    Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia:
  • Abnormal restricted eating habits
  • being underweight compared with others of similar height and age
  • a fear of gaining weight, even if they are already underweight
  • obsession with being thinner
  • distorted view of their body
  • basing their self-esteem on body weight or shap
  • avoid eating in public or around others
  • obsessive-compulsive tendencies (in some people)

Rumination Disorder
A condition in which a person regurgitates partially digested food, chews it again, and will either swallow it or spit it out. Unlike self-induced purging, rumination is involuntary. The first episode usually is in response to illness, physical injury, or psychological distress, and regurgitation may provide some relief. This disorder can develop as early as infancy and will get better without treatment. However, persistent rumination could lead to fatal malnourishment. Rumination in older children and adults usually requires psychological treatment.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • A need to burp
  • Feeling of pressure or discomfort
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Electrolyte Imbalance
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Sleeping Difficulties
  • Weight Loss
  • Malnourishment

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
ARFID used to be called selective eating disorder and is similar to anorexia in that it is restricting calorie consumption. However, a person with ARFIT does not obsess about their body size or weight gain and can occur due to a lack of interest in eating, or they may avoid eating because of the sensory characteristics of feed. This disorder can occur at any age and could be more challenging to detect in children who are fussy eaters.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Significant weight loss
  • Stunted Growth (in children)
  • Severe nutrient deficiencies
  • A dependence on oral nutritional supplements
  • Considerable interference with social functioning

Other Eating Disorders:
Orthorexia: This eating disturbance is an obsession with eating healthful foods. Healthcare professionals do not recognize it as an official condition.
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED): A person with OSFED may show signs and symptoms of bulimia or anorexia but does not meet the diagnostic criteria for either condition.
Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED): When a person does not meet the criteria for any particular eating disorder but will present with similar symptoms and psychological distress.
Laxative Abuse: This is not technically an eating disorder, but laxative abuse involves excessive use of laxatives in order to lose weight and become thinner.
Excessive Exercise: When someone does an excessive amount of exercising in order to burn calories and achieve unhealthy weight loss.

Treatment options for all of these could include:

  • Psychotherapy (Family Counseling or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
  • Medications (Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Mood Stabilizers)
  • Nutritional Counseling
  • Medical Care and Monitoring

If you suspect that a loved one has a eating disorder you should encourage them to speak to their doctor. Doctors may refer the person for psychotherapy, psychiatric treatment, or for care at a specialist center for eating disorders.


How To Cope With Social Anxiety

There are millions of people around the world that experience symptoms of social anxiety each year. In this blog, we are going to give you some tips on how to cope with your social anxiety. Around 15 million people have social anxiety, which is a fear of being judged or rejected by others in a social context. People dealing with this issue may avoid a variety of social events, including ones that would usually be a source of fun and joy like parties or graduation ceremonies and can be very isolating.

  1. Avoid negative coping strategies
    There are negative emotional and mental states that are associated with social anxiety and can lead to physiological symptoms that can worsen someone’s concern. Some people have expressed that it feels like a fogginess in their brain, keeping them from thinking straight, upset stomach, loss of appetite, sweaty hands, and muscle stiffness. In unavoidable situations such as office events, people may try to use negative coping strategies like drinking alcohol, but drinking too much will most likely end up making your anxiety worse. The ADAA states that approximately 20% of people with social anxiety have an alcohol use disorder. So a tip that is often given is to avoid potentially worsening your symptoms is to avoid drinking too much.
  2. Face your fears, don’t hide from them
    Some people may try to avoid engaging in social situations because of their social anxiety by checking social media or doing other activities on their smartphones. Studies have also shown that constant social media use can cause low self-esteem. One tip that may sound weird is to expose yourself to social mishaps purposely. In other words, intentionally and repeatedly being awkward in social situations will help you realize that a few social slips will not lead to rejection from social groups. Everyone is awkward and makes mistakes on occasions.
  3. Reframe your thoughts
    A top coping strategy that is suggested is to try and reframe your understanding of the stress you have been experiencing. There is a study that shows that when people with or without social anxiety try to understand how their bodies respond to stressors like public speaking, it will help them experience less stress in uncomfortable social situations. Another way to help reframe your thoughts would try using the “yes, but” technique. This requires you to challenge the negative thoughts and counterbalance them with up to three positive affirmations such as, “yes, I will indeed be attending a party packed with people that I don’t know. But I am a funny, interesting individual with many hobbies, so I will find something to talk about with others.”
  4. Do something nice for someone
    Try to distract yourself from all your worries and negative thoughts by doing something nice for someone else. Good deeds have been proven to have a positive impact on mood.

Signs Of Emotional Abuse And How To Help


Emotional and mental abuse are serious issues that can be noticed by some signs, whereas other forms of abuse can be more challenging to see or understand. From the outside looking in, they can be obvious, but to a person that is in the situation may miss or be unaware of the abuse. Let’s break down what emotional and mental abuse is. Emotional and psychological abuse is when a person controls, isolates, or scares someone else to control the relationship/situation. The form of abuse can be in statements, threats, or actions that are a pattern or regularity to the behavior. Learning these signs can help people identify if they are in an abusive situation/relationship and seek out the help that they may need. Some people may feel like they can deal with the abuse or try to justify it by saying that it is “not as bad” as physical abuse. Still, emotional abuse has its long term effects on mental abuse and could be a sign that physical abuse will follow.

Where can it happen
Abusive people usually abuse those who are close to them. For example, a partner, a business partner or close team member, a parent, a caretaker, or even a close friend they rely on. The National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse states that emotional and mental abuse can be subtle. The victim may not even notice that they are being manipulated. Emotional abuse can be in many different forms, depending on what the abusive person is attempting to do. 

Controlling behavior can be a red flag in any relationship and can include:

  • Making demands or orders and expecting them to be done
  • Making all decisions, even canceling another’s plans without asking
  • Continually monitoring another person’s whereabouts
  • Insisting on regular calls, text, or pictures detailing where the person is, and even showing up to those places to make sure they are not lying
  • Requiring immediate responses from calls or texts
  • Exerting financial control over the other person, such as keeping all accounts in their name or only giving the other person a allowance
  • Spying by going through the other person’s phone, checking their internet search history, or looking through their messages with others
  • Having a rule in place demanding the person’s passwords for access to their social medias, phone, and email at any time
  • Treating the other person like a child by telling them what to eat, what to wear, or where they can go
  • Yelling, frequently using it as a scare tactic and can be a way for an abusive person to let the other person who is in control
  • Using the other persons fears and manipulate their fears to control them
  • Withholding affection as a punishment. Abusers may withhold affection or make the other person feel they are undeserving of love
  • Giving excessive gifts with the implication that the gifts may disappear at any time or to remind the victim of what they could lose if they leave the relationship

Abusive people might try to make the other person feel shame for their shortcomings or feel like they are much worse for the shortcomings. There are multiple forms this may show including:

  • Lectures: The abusive person may give lectures about the other person’s behavior in such a way that it makes them feel inferior.
  • Outbursts: This involves aspects of control as well. Not doing what the abusive person wants can result in an outburst of angry behavior from them in order to both take control and make the other person feel shame for “not listening”.
  • Lies: Abusive people may blatantly lie, giving them false opinions from their friends about their “bad” behavior.
  • Walkouts: Abusive people may leave a situation rather than resolve it in the middle of a disagreement at home. For example, making remarks on how the other person is “crazy” and put all the blame on the other person to make them feel ashamed.
  • Trivializing: If the other person wishes to talk about their issues, the abusive person may criticize them for even having issues or telling them that they are making a big deal for no reason.

Blame usually stems from the abusive person’s sense of insecurity by blaming others, and they do not have to recognize their shortcomings. This can be shown in many ways, such as:

  • Jealousy: Jealousy can be an abusive tactic. The abusive person may regularly confront the others for talking to or “flirting with” other people. The abuser may accuse the other person of cheating on them regularly.
  • Playing the victim: The abusive person may try to turn the tables on the other person by blaming them for the issues that the abuser has not yet dealt with and even accuse them of being the abusive one in the relationship.
  • Egging the person on: The abusive person typically knows how to get under the other person’s skin to make them angry. They may irritate them until the other person becomes upset, blaming them for even getting upset.

Most of the time the abuser’s actions or words serve no purpose other than to humiliate the other person. This behavior can look like:

  • Blatant name calling: The abuser may blatantly call the other stupid or “an idiot”, or other hurtful names and if confronted they may try to pass it off as sarcasm.
  • Joking or Sarcasm: Sometimes abusive people disguise their derogatory remarks as sarcasm. If the other person gets offended, the abuser may make fun of them for “lacking a sense of humor”.
  • Harmful Nicknames: Nicknames or pet names may be normal in relationships, but a name that is hurtful is unacceptable.
  • Public Displays: Abusive people may openly pick fights and make fun of the other person in public and blame the other person for becoming angry.
  • Patronizing: This can include talking down to another person for trying to learn something new or make the other person feel like they are not “on their level”.
  • Insults on Appearance: An abusive person may insult the other’s appearance around other people.
  • Cheating: The abuser may cheat on their partners in order to hurt or humiliate them or to show that they are “highly desirable”.

Abusive people seem to make situations chaotic for no good reasons than to keep the other person in check. This kind of behavior can look like:

  • Drastic mood swings like being very affectionate to full of rage and breaking things
  • Emotional Outbursts
  • Starting arguments for no reason
  • Self-contradiction such as kaming statements that contradicts the one they just said
  • Gaslighting such as denying facts or making the other feel like they do not remember the situation correctly
  • Acting two faced such as being charming in public but the complete opposite the minute they get home

Abusive people act in many ways in order to make the other person feel isolated from others including:

  • Telling another person they cannot spend time with friends or family
  • Hiding the person’s car keys
  • Stealing, hiding, or even destroying the other person’s cell phone or computer
  • Making fun or belittling the person’s friends or family resulting the other person to feel bad for spending time with them
  • Taking up all of the person’s free time
  • Locking the person in a room or the house

What can you do to help?
It would help if you encouraged anyone you know that feels they are in immediate danger of physical harm to call 911. If anyone is seeing signs of emotional abuse but is not in immediate danger, encourage them to seek out help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers anonymous support by phone, text, or even online chat. The hotline is available 24/7 and can help people find shelter as well as other services. If a person is feeling uncomfortable reaching out to get assistance, they can reach out to a family member or a trusted friend that could help them feel supported and less isolated. Taking steps away from an emotionally abusive situation is essential for the other person to take back control over their own life. This can include:

  • Setting boundaries with the abusive person and standing up to them in any degree necessary in order to get the abuse to stop. In some cases it could include ending the relationship or cutting ties with a partner and never speaking to them again.
  • Changing priorities: abusive people manipulate the other person’s sense of sympathy to the point they are neglecting themselves while taking care of the abuser and putting an end to this habit is important in order to put their own priorities first.
  • Get professional help: Seeking professional help like therapy and support groups can help strengthen the person’s resolve and believe that they are not alone in recovering from the abuse.
  • Exit plan: Anyone who feels that they are in an emotionally abusive situation should have a plan for getting out of the situation when the time comes and working with those that love and support them can help their plan feel stronger and get the person to take action when the time is right.

What Is Survivors Guilt?

Survivor’s guilt is when someone has feelings of guilt because they survived a life-threatening event, but others did not. It is common to react this way to a traumatic event and is a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can also occur in relation to a loss of life. They may question why they were able to escape death while others lost their lives and wonder whether there was something they could have done to prevent the traumatic event or save a life. Survivor’s guilt used to be its own diagnosis, but mental health professionals now consider it to be a significant symptom of PTSD. People who may suffer from survivors guilt may include:

  • War Veterans
  • First Responders
  • Holocaust Survivors
  • 9/11 Survivors
  • Cancer Survivors
  • Transplant Recipients
  • Crash Survivors
  • Natural Disaster Survivors
  • Witnesses to a traumatic event
  • Family members of those who have developed a fatal hereditary condition
  • People who have lost a family member to suicide
  • Parents who outlive their child

Common symptoms
People who survive traumatic events may experience one or more of the following:

  • Flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Obsessive thoughts about the event
  • Irritability and Anger
  • Feelings of helplessness and disconnection
  • Fear and Confusion
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Problems Sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or Stomachaches
  • Social Isolation
  • Thoughts of Suicide
  • Perceive the world as unfair and unsafe

Not everyone who experiences traumatic events will develop survivor’s guilt. Some factors can increase the risk and the severity of PTSD symptoms, including survivor’s guilt.

  • A history of trauma (childhood abuse)
  • Having other mental health issues (such as anxiety or depression)
  • A family history of psychiatric problems
  • Lack of support from friends or family
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Their belief that they can predict or prevent an outcome
  • Their role in causing negative outcomes
  • Wrongdoing on their part

Some people with survivor’s guilt and other PTSD symptoms can recover without treatment within the first year following the traumatic event. However, one-third of them will continue to have PTSD symptoms for three years or longer. Here are some tips for coping with survivor’s guilt.

Accept and allow the feelings

Even though survivor’s guilt is not always rational, it is a common response to trauma. Accepting and allowing the feelings that surface, taking time to process the guilt, grief, fear, and loss that accompany the event can all help. If the feelings are overwhelming or do not begin to get more manageable over time, it is essential to seek out help.

Connect with others
Sharing your feelings with family and/or friends is a way to connect. If your loved ones do not understand your feelings, look for a support group. Face-to-face support groups and online communities can allow survivors to connect, express themselves, and ask questions.

Use Mindfulness Techniques
Mindfulness can be beneficial for those who have experienced trauma, especially during a flashback or during intense and painful emotions. Grounding techniques, such as having them focus on breathing, feeling nearby fabrics, and noticing inside and outside sounds, can help them become mindful.

Practice Self-Care
Loss and potential loss of life is frightening and overwhelming. Survivors can benefit from doing one or more of these activities such as:

  • Taking baths
  • Reading
  • Resting
  • Meditating
  • Journaling
  • Creating art
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Trying aromatherapy

It is also important for you to get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly.

Do something good for others
People who survive a traumatic event may feel better if they try to help others. They can do this by educating people about their experience, volunteering at a local charity, donating blood, making a charitable donation, lending support to others, or sending a care package to someone.

If you or your loved one continues to experience intense guilt, flashbacks, disturbing dreams, and other symptoms of PTSD, you should consider getting professional help by talking to a doctor or psychotherapist who specialized in trauma. Therapy is the primary treatment type for PTSD, but some more severe cases may also require medication. Traumatic events can increase the risk of suicide. If you or your loved one have thoughts of death, suicide, or have attempted suicide, you should seek immediate attention.


How To Stop Binge Eating And What To Do To Get Back On Track

Binge eating is when someone eats large amounts of food in a short time. Someone who does binge eat may not be able to control the type or amount of food that is consumed and can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and depression. Those who binge eat at least once a week for three months may have a binge eating disorder and is one of the most common types of eating disorders in the United States. It can also be a sign of bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Here are a few tips on how to stop and what to do to get back on track.

Avoid Dieting
Following a diet plan could lead to feelings of deprivation. The act of sudden and significantly cutting calories from your body can cause it to go in to starvation mode and could lead to episodes of binge eating. Fasting can increase the risk of binge eating and bulimia. Focus on filling up on healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and avocados. Some people would benefit from the 80:20 approach to eating. This involves consuming healthy foods, 80% of the time, and enjoying treats the other 20%.

Regularly working out may help binge eating because it causes the body to release endorphins that boost your mood. A better mood can reduce any risk of emotional eating relating to stress, sadness, or anger.

Identify and address triggers
People may binge eat in response to loneliness, boredom, sadness, or other things. Figuring out what may trigger your binge eating could help you avoid or manage those triggers. Some people keep a food journal of what they eat and what they are feeling at that time.

Reduce Stress
Stress can be a common trigger for binge eating. Research shows that stress reduces a person’s awareness of their hunger cues. You can manage your stress by eliminating stressors by practicing meditation, deep breathing techniques, exercise regularly, practice yoga or tai chi, get enough sleep, or use alternative therapies like massage, acupuncture, or aromatherapy.

Do not skip meals
Not only can your blood sugar levels can drop from skipping meals, but can also prompt your body to crave a quick boost of sugar. Eating those foods can raise your blood sugar levels and crash again quickly, causing a cycle. To avoid things like this from happening, you should plan regular meals and snacks. Studies show that eating three meals and two or three planned snacks can lower the frequency of binge eating episodes.

Try Mindfulness
Fourteen studies have shown that mindfulness meditation effectively reduces binge and emotional eating. Eating slowly will allow your body to be able to recognize your hunger cues, and you are less likely to overeat because your body will notice when you are full.

Remove Temptations
Having access to sugary and processed foods making the foods readily available. Replacing those foods with healthy options instead will help you make better choices on what to eat when you are hungry. If you are out and about good snack options to take with you are fresh fruit, no sugar added protein bars, small amounts of dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Do not confuse thirst and hunger
Try drinking a glass of water if you start to feel hungry before you eat anything. If the feeling goes away, you may have just been thirsty. If you still feel hungry, then you should eat a balanced meal or snack. Research has shown that drinking 500 milliliters of water before every meal reduces the number of calories that you eat by 13%.

Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential to regulate hunger and appetite. Lack of sleep can increase stress and mood, which can trigger binge eating and can contribute to obesity by increasing food intake, decreasing energy throughout the day, and affecting hormones that regulate appetite. The recommended amount of sleep is 7-8 hours every night.

Keeping a routine can help you get back on track and keep you moving forward after a binge. Some people will brush their teeth, signaling an end to overeating. Treatments for binge eating disorders can include psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Therapy typically helps address the emotions and issues that underline the eating disorder and could help you identify your triggers. Individuals who suspect that they may have a binge eating disorder should speak to their doctor. They can vary from mild to severe and can be a short term issue or can last for years.

Original Posts: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326961.php#treatments

Welcome Natalie!

We would like to welcome Natalie Valle to the team! Natalie is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and specializes in providing therapy in trauma, depression, anxiety, EMDR trained, play therapy, life transitions, couples, family, individual, groups, and more. Check out her profile on our website at www.afcwichita.com or call us at 316-636-2888 to schedule an appointment.