One of the most cliché statements that someone can say to you when you have an addiction or another chronic problem falls along the lines of “realizing you have a problem is the first step in getting better.” While it’s not usually something you want to hear, it’s absolutely true. There are tools that can be found online to help you figure out if you need help and what type of help it is that you should seek out.

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The NEDA actually offers a Eating Disorder Screening Tool on their website, which can be found here. The survey asks a series of questions in order to determine if you should seek help for a potential eating disorder. Some of the questions include, “How much more or less do you feel you worry about your weight and body shape than other people your age? How afraid are you of gaining three pounds? Compared to other things in your life, how important is your weight to you? In the past three months, how many time have you done any of the following as a means to control your weight and shape: made yourself throw up, used diuretics or laxatives, exercised excessively, fasted.”

Along with that, the NEDA offers a page of resources for specific problems regarding eating disorders. Some of these specific categories include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. The way the different disorders that fall under the name of eating disorders are treated, can vary significantly. More often than not, someone suffering from one of these disorders will begin a program with a clinical psychologist.

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A psychologist that focuses on treating eating disorder will have the same level of education that other clinical psychologists have. This includes a 4-year Bachelor’s Degree, a Master’s Degree, and either a PhD or PsyD. Both of these can be offered online, an example would be Meridian’s Psyd online programs. If the psychologist knows that they want to work with patients suffering from eating disorders, they will probably complete their internship or residency program working within the field.

A clinical psychologist will work with their team and other professionals to get an in depth understanding of the problem the patient faces along with the potential triggers and underlying causes of the condition. Once a doctor states that he or she is not suffering from a physical disease or condition, the clinical psychologist can take over to treat the mental side of things. They will assess the patient and try to determine the root of the problem. While working with the patient, the clinical psychologist will create a plan that will help the patient deal with the cause of the problem. This is usually something mental or emotional. The patient will undergo therapy and work with the psychologist to get rid of the thoughts that are creating the disorder.

Clinical psychologists that treat eating disorders are good listeners, influential, have good speaking skills, have intense patience, and are exceptional at problem solving.

Getting help for an eating disorder is the first step in the recovery process. The main goal is to figure out how to stay healthy rather than thin and to change the mindset behind that. Warning signs of an eating disorder can be physical, emotional and mental. The most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, otherwise specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED), avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), PICA, rumination disorder, orthorexia, compulsive exercise, and diabulimia.

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Preventing eating disorders is difficult because there’s never just one factor that causes someone to obtain the disorder. There are however initiatives in place all over the world that are trying to make young adults understand that body image should be healthy rather than thin and you do not need to compare yourself to others. Though it can’t change everyone, it’s a start.