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Eating Disorders:
Frequently Asked Questions

Before you begin therapy for an eating disorder, it's normal to have a few questions about diagnosis and treatment. We are here to help bring some clarity to the process!

I think I have anxiety. How do I know for sure?

Moments of worry or anxiety can help motivate people to do their best on a test or make a good impression during a meeting. But given that you’re here on this website, there are probably times where anxiety feels overwhelming, stifling, life-limiting, or just generally like it keeps you from being able to rest. We can help you sort through whether you qualify for a clinical diagnosis. We’ll ask you questions about your triggers, symptoms, behaviors (and their function), and how long you have been experiencing them. Some common symptoms you might recognize are:

  • Excessive worry thoughts

  • Restlessness

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Muscle tension

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Changes in appetite

  • Avoidance of triggers

 

If you notice these symptoms in yourself, you’ll likely benefit from a formal assessment. We will use that information to develop a personalized treatment plan based on the latest evidence-based techniques. Seeking help is a positive step towards improving your well-being.

2

What causes anxiety? Does anxiety mean something is wrong?

There isn’t a simple answer to this. Anxiety disorders are usually caused by some combination of genetics (thank you, ancestors!), brain chemistry, family dynamics/role modeling, personality factors, cognitive distortions, environment/culture, and/or traumatic experiences. Everyone’s anxiety operates a bit differently, and a trained therapist can help you sort through how your anxiety came about and offer strategies that fit your unique challenges.

 

Up to 45% of people will qualify for a clinical diagnosis of anxiety at some point in their lives - that’s a lot of folks! While anxiety is extremely common, it often FEELS extremely distressing and convincing that something more serious is going wrong. 

 

But that doesn’t always mean that something is really wrong. Sometimes, it’s our body’s primitive "threat detection system" operating in overdrive due to any of the many factors above. We can teach that system to respond more appropriately, and to stand down when something is simply difficult or stressful—not threatening. 

 

Setting up your first therapy appointment is a great place to start.

3

My thoughts keep repeating.
Why can’t I STOP thinking about the same things?

Does your brain feel stuck? Are you replaying a social interaction? Trying to figure out a problem or predict the future of your relationship? Bothered by a memory, urge or image? You’re not alone. Many people who experience anxiety have this experience of rumination. One thing we know for sure: Trying to stop a thought is a sure-fire way to keep having a thought. Sound familiar? Try NOT thinking about a pink elephant. Go ahead!

 

Did it work? Of course not, because that’s simply not how our brains function. If you are struggling to stop your thoughts, you might have compulsive rumination (CR). CR is often confused with an obsession or simply worrying. The difference is compulsive rumination (CR) involves trying to reach an answer in order to relieve distress. We would love to teach you some strategies for responding with non-engagement, which will help you step off the CR hamster wheel and into a more peaceful state of mind.

4

What is treatment for anxiety like? What should I expect?

  • First and foremost, expect to feel respected, understood, and cared for. You will not be told to stop worrying or that your worries aren’t real. We know you have heard a lot of well-intentioned yet unhelpful advice from loved ones. We KNOW you are trying your hardest and you would never willingly choose to have this struggle.

  • We assign homework and hope to scale it to your comfort level and scheduling constraints. Research suggests that practicing strategies outside of session yields the best results. 

  • You will be in the driver’s seat and determine the pace and degree of challenge you are ready for. We encourage clients to stay in the growth zone or “Goldilocks zone.” Too tough and you risk giving up and reinforcing the avoidance. Too easy and you won’t see the progress you want. We will collaborate on a plan to get it just right.

  • With exposure practices, we would never ask you to do something we wouldn’t be willing to do ourselves. You can rest assured we won’t push it too far, and all of our methods are supported by research.

  • A comment we hear a lot is, “I wish I had reached out sooner!" Anxiety is a time thief and you can expect to have more time to spend on the things that matter to you.

5

Do I have to take medication for anxiety?
What are the best medicines for anxiety? 

This conversation is best had with your doctor (Primary Care Physician or Psychiatrist). Whether you are completely opposed to medication or on the fence about it, we respect your point of view and will happily work with you either way. We see a lot of clients who take medications and we are happy to talk to you about the risks and benefits of adding medication to your treatment plan.

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