Difficulties
Whatever it is you or a loved one is struggling with, we are here to help

Difficulties with food can manifest in many different ways. The types of difficulties in question are often referred to as eating disorders. 

Eating disorders can often start as small adjustments in our lifestyles that can spiral out of control.  Controlling one’s intake of food – either by restricting intake or eating more than normal, sometimes known as ‘comfort-eating’ – can often start as coping mechanisms for dealing anxiety, stress and depression.

Anorexia Nervosa 

Certain patterns of thoughts and behaviours are collectively referred to as anorexia nervosa, or anorexia for short. Anorexia affects both males and females. Often these difficulties are characterised by a marked restriction in one’s intake of food, or by feeling compelled to keep one’s weight as low as possible. This may be because of a fear of being fat or a desire to be thin, or thinner. Images of oneself can also be out of line with the way others perceive the person concerned – feeling fat when others’ perceptions are that one is too thin. 

Some of the indications of anorexia are:

  • Counting calories and restricting the intake of calories.
  • Missing meals, eating very little or avoiding certain foods.
  • Stress around meal times and/or eating with others.
  • Vigilantly monitoring one’s weight.
  • Excessive exercise at the gym or elsewhere. 


This in turn can lead to:

  • Avoiding certain situations – especially where food is likely to be a feature
  • Taking certain supplements or medications like appetite suppressants, or laxatives / diuretics (medications that remove food products or fluids from the body)

As well as the stress this can cause, these actions can also have physical consequences such as feeling lightheaded, dizzy, dry skin, hair loss as well as the associated risks around low weight.  

Sometimes recognising these difficulties can be a challenge in itself. If you yourself are not struggling with these difficulties but are concerned that someone you know may be, then it is first important to express your concerns with this person. It is important, however, to resist being critical or pressurising. This is especially important since individuals with anorexia may disagree about whether their behaviour is worthy of concern or not.  

Whether you or someone you are concerned about recognise these difficulties, at Psychology Sussex we have experienced practitioners that have specialised in working with clients experiencing eating disorders who would be happy to speak with you about how we may be able to help. We are also used to working collaboratively with other professionals such as GPs to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our clients. 

Bulimia Nervosa

Some individuals can over-eat shortly followed by vomiting or using laxatives (medication that expels solids from the body) or diuretics (medication that expels liquid from the body) – this is sometimes known as ‘binging and purging’ – these patterns of behaviour are commonly referred to as bulimia nervosa, or just bulimia. This behaviour may be because of concerns about body weight or shape or it may also be a coping mechanism to deal with feelings of sadness, loneliness or stress. 

A lot of the indications of bulimia are similar to anorexia, described above, and may also include:

  • Eating significant amounts of food in a short period of time – binging. 
  • Forcing oneself to vomit or using laxatives/diuretics – purging.  
  • Being frightened of putting on weight.
  • Being self-critical or concerned about one’s weight or body shape. 

This can lead to certain behaviours and have physical consequences like: 

  • Avoiding certain situations – especially where food is likely to be a feature.
  • Taking certain supplements or medications like appetite suppressants, or laxatives / diuretics (medications that remove food products or fluids from the body).
  • Tiredness or feeling weak.
  • Dental issues caused by stomach acid eroding tooth enamel. This can also lead to bad breath and a sore throat
  • Hair loss, dry skin, brittle nails.

Whether you or someone you are concerned about recognise these difficulties, at Psychology Sussex we have experienced practitioners that have specialised in working with clients experiencing eating disorders who would be happy to speak with you about how we may be able to help. We are also used to working collaboratively with other professionals such as GPs to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our clients.

Body Dysmorphia 

Obsessive worrying about one’s appearance or body image – and seeing oneself as somehow flawed – are difficulties sometimes referred to as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) or body dysmorphia. These kinds of thoughts can be very upsetting. You, or someone you are concerned about, may be experiencing body dysmorphia if you recognise the following difficulties:

  • Constantly worrying a lot about a specific area, or areas, of your body.
  • Finding yourself regularly comparing how you look with other people.
  • Going to great lengths to alter the way you look, say by concealing certain areas with clothes or make-up.
  • Spending a lot of time looking in the mirror, or avoiding looking in the mirror altogether.

If these kinds of difficulties are concerning you, then do not hesitate to email or phone now to speak to one of our team about how it is Psychology Sussex may be able to help you. 

Supporting someone with an eating disorder or body image struggles

You may be concerned about a friend or relative, particularly that they may be experiencing an eating disorder or struggling with their body image. This can be particularly difficult if the person in question does not share your concerns. It is important to remain calm, and try and support them in whatever way you can, including listening to them and sharing your concerns without putting pressure on them, criticising them or being judgemental – of course this can be very challenging at times.  

At Psychology Sussex we have practitioners who are experienced in working with carers of those with an eating disorder and are able to provide one-off sessions or ongoing support and advice.  

Do not hesitate to Contact now to speak to one of our team about how it is Psychology Sussex may be able to help you. 

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