Eating disorder treatment in southern New Hampshire

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as many as 10 million women and one million men in the U.S. have eating disorders, yet only a fraction of those people receive behavioral health care. Untreated eating disorders can lead to serious and even fatal health problems, so getting help is critical.

Reach out to Parkland Medical Center for eating disorder treatment. Our team and the inpatient services available at the Reflections Eating Disorders Center, which provides a disease-specific certified program for adolescents and adults, are ready to help.

Call our Consult-A-Nurse® team 24/7 at (877) 642-2362 for more information about working with our eating disorder treatment program.

What you need to know about eating disorders

An eating disorder is present when a person experiences disturbances in eating behavior. Examples of severe cases include a drastic reduction of food intake, extreme overeating or feelings of extraordinary distress or concern about body weight or shape.

Eating disorders are real, treatable illnesses with complex underlying psychological and biological causes. They frequently coexist with other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, substance abuse or anxiety disorders. People with eating disorders also may display many other physical health complications, including heart problems or kidney failure, which can lead to death.

Who can develop an eating disorder?

Eating disorders frequently appear during adolescence or young adulthood, but they can also develop during childhood or much later in life. Females are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder. Men and boys account for an estimated five to 15 percent of patients with anorexia or bulimia and an estimated 35 percent of patients with binge-eating disorder.

Types of eating disorders

The two eating disorders people are most familiar with are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Another well-known category is “eating disorders not otherwise specified,” which includes several variations similar to anorexia or bulimia but with slightly different characteristics. People with an eating disorder often have low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. Restricting their diet and weight or binging or purging helps control their surroundings and emotions.

The American Psychiatric Association made some welcome changes to better recognize the many people with symptoms outside the criteria for anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Namely, the association now acknowledges:

  • Avoidant restrictive feeding and eating disorder
  • Other specified feeding or eating disorders, which includes purging disorder, low-intensity bulimia and atypical anorexia
  • Pica (craving and chewing substances with no nutritional value)
  • Rumination disorder
  • Unspecified feeding or eating disorder

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a relentless pursuit of thinness and an unwillingness to maintain a healthy body weight.

These attitudes and behaviors can be seen with or without purging behaviors (self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, diuretic abuse or over-exercising). With both physical and psychological consequences, anorexia nervosa is best treated by a multispecialty medical team.

Signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:

  • A fine growth of hair on the face/chest
  • Brittle hair or nails or hair loss
  • Compulsive or excessive exercise
  • Constipation
  • Depression and/or social isolation
  • Distorted body image
  • Dizziness or fainting after standing
  • Inability to maintain a normal body weight
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Intense preoccupation with food and weight
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Obsession with food
  • Slow heart rate (less than 60 beats per minute)
  • Unusual eating behaviors, such as eating at a slow pace or using alternative behaviors (like gum chewing) to replace eating
  • Yellow skin color

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food followed by behaviors that compensate for the binge, such as purging, fasting or excessive exercise. With both physical and psychological consequences, bulimia nervosa is best treated by a multispecialty treatment team.

Signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Compulsive or excessive exercise
  • Constipation/diarrhea
  • Decreased ability to focus or concentrate
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Distorted body image
  • Fear of weight gain
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Mouth, teeth, gum and throat problems
  • Obsession with food, including activities and information related to food
  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • Secretive behavior around food and eating
  • Self-induced vomiting, laxative, diuretic or diet pill use
  • Skipping some meals and overeating at others

Comprehensive care for eating disorders

With Parkland's inpatient and outpatient services, you benefit from a total focus on patient care that includes:

  • Individualized treatment plans regularly reviewed by our multispecialty care team made up of psychiatrists, therapists, psychologists, educators, expressive therapists, registered dietitians, case managers and specialized nursing staff
  • A balanced participant/staff ratio, which provides regular access to and interaction with your physician, all members of your individual care team and all Reflections staff members, including the program director
  • Our unique family skill-building and family-based meal program—designed by Reflections—to help families learn to redirect behaviors, provide feedback and improve individual outcomes
  • Our highly structured psychotherapeutic approach to care that allows us to use cognitive behavioral therapy coupled with medically and therapeutically appropriate interventions
  • Treatment for co-occurring issues, such as diabetes, anxiety and depression, through our Parkland resources
  • Assistance with school-related issues to help to maintain your academic standing
  • Experienced mental health professionals who work exclusively at Reflections, an eating disorder treatment center in our medical building
  • A robust experiential and exposure component to your care, ensuring that you have a full, enriching life with your family and friends after discharge