The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Psychologist helps students recognize disorders

By Andrea Conley/tr news editor

Clinical psychologist Lara Pence told a small gathering of Trinity River Campus students, faculty and staff how to recognize the signs of eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, and how to offer help to a classmate, colleague or loved one who may be suffering from one of those disorders.

Pence, who serves as the clinical supervisor at Dallas’ Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders, presented the seminar Feb. 25, during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Many attendees were visibly disturbed by the graphic descriptions of the typical symptoms of anorexia and bulimia as well as the medical complications often resulting in serious, long-term illness and death.

“I’ve seen patients who wanted to get down to 100 pounds,” Pence said. “But once they got to 100, then they wanted to get down to 94.  And when they reached 94, and then 84, they still wanted to lose more weight.”

She pointed out these patients have a mental illness that seriously distorts their body image.

While others see the patients as disturbingly thin — skeletal, in some cases — they view themselves as overweight.

The Renfrew Center has nine clinics throughout the U.S. and offers various services tailored to gender and age group.

Pence told audience members to pay attention when they notice people with serious weight loss and compulsive exercise/workouts.

Also of concern should be an increased use of diet pills, laxatives, diuretics and rapid or persistent decline in food intake.

Another warning sign is an individual who always has an excuse not to participate in a regular mealtime.

“If they always say they have already had lunch,” Pence said, the individual “might be affected by an eating disorder.”

Often, the victims of these disorders are suffering depression, and these destructive behaviors can be a cry for help.

Pence said she has seen patients who developed anorexia and/or bulimia during events such as their parents’ separation or divorce, the beginning of their college experience, a breakup, etc.

Those who wish to find out more about negative body image and the eating disorders that can result may visit www.nationaleatingdisorders.org, www.somethingfishy.org and www.renfrewcenter.com

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