Transgender Identity May Compound Eating Disorder Symptoms


  Co-occuring Disorders, Blog

Eating disorders are not one-size-fits-all . . .  and treatment shouldn’t be either. At Alsana, clients are accepted, supported and seen. Explore how we treat complex eating disorders to build independence and restore hope.

Defining complex eating disorders

At Alsana, we believe that every eating disorder is a complex eating disorder. “Eating disorders are a manifestation of a person trying to cope with other issues and problems in their lives,” says Jim Gerber, M.A., ATR, Ph.D. “Our team engages clients in personalized treatment. We dive into their in-depth history to understand how these problems developed in their life.”

Complex eating disorders differ from co-occuring physical ailments — you may have a headache and a sprained ankle at the same time, for example, and these are co-occurring but unrelated. In contrast, a diagnosis like substance abuse or OCD needs to be addressed in conjunction with an eating disorder. For many clients, this may look like having an eating disorder combined with an anxiety disorder, depression, personality disorder or PTSD.

“Disorders are interwoven,” says Dr. Gerber. “We acknowledge and treat the various disorders a person may struggle with — but our goal is always to understand the role those struggle play into the client’s eating disorder.”

Alsana’s treatment philosophy

Alsana clients are not defined by their eating disorder. Clients work through their symptoms and address the root causes of their eating disorder in our authentic treatment. They collaborate with a treatment team to create a personalized plan for eating disorder recovery.

“We take an in-depth approach. We dig deep to understand the complexity of the underlying issues that present themselves in the eating disorder,” says Dr. Gerber.  

For example, a client may have an eating disorder and depression. The treatment team helps to uncover why and how the depression evolved in this person’s life. If the client is over-achieving, performance oriented and always driven to meet the next goal, then there may be an underlying sense of inadequacy and shame. “Depth therapy allows us to dive into understanding and resolving that underlying sense of inadequacy and shame. We go beyond the controlling symptoms,” says Dr. Gerber.

Why we treat the whole person

We know that eating disorders aren’t simple. And we’re not afraid of the complexity of recovery. “Many programs focus on behavior change and symptom remission,” Dr. Gerber notes. “We do this as part of our approach. But, ultimately, we want enduring change for our clients. That’s why our clients collaborate with our team for integrated treatment. We care that our clients find peace with themselves.”

At Alsana, we believe lasting recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Our integrated eating disorder treatment builds independence and restores hope. If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, reach out for help. Call us today for a confidential assessment: 855-915-0213.


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