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Pica

Pica Therapy and Treatment.

Therapy for Pica in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah 

Pica is one of the most commonly known eating disorders, and is associated with eating non-food items, such as hair, dirt, detergents, ice, cloth, etc. In some cases, the item being eaten could be physically damaging to the person suffering from the condition (i.e. Paint, glue, feces, etc.)

Although Pica may seem serious in only specific types of situations, it could be a warning sign that something bigger is going on.

Who Tends to Develop an Eating Disorder Like Pica?

 Pica tends to be a type of a coping mechanism, but it can also be due to nutrient deficiencies. That’s why it’s usually seen more often in pregnant women or children.

Certain types of diets that are low in necessary nutrients could contribute to Pica, as a way to help your body feel full. Before starting any type of new or “fad” diet, talk to your nutritionist or physician to find out what type of impact it could have on your individual health.

For people who seem to develop Pica for no known reason, it’s important to have your physician screen you for undiagnosed medical conditions. Ask to have your zinc and iron levels tested first, as these could be naturally occurring deficiencies that are triggering an eating disorder.

How Long do People Tend to Have Pica?

Fortunately, Pica is usually only temporary. Once the cause is identified (and treated) it’s usually easier to eliminate the unhealthy eating habits that seem to be coming instinctually. However, therapies may be needed to help the person with Pica find healthier ways to cope, while their medical condition is being treated by a physician.

Longer-term cases of Pica tend to be seen in individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities. As such, they’re usually easier to diagnose because a family member or caregiver is observing the tendencies to eat non-food items.

Treatments for Pica

If the items you or your child have been eating are causing physical damage, your doctor may need to prescribe medicine to deal with the side-effects. Otherwise, therapy or counseling may be the best way to effectively manage and overcome the habit.

The Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis recommends taking a daily multivitamin to reduce your risk of nutritional deficiencies, which may lead to Pica triggers. There are, however, no medical treatments for Pica itself; but rather the deficiencies contributing to it and behavioral therapies to support overcoming the habit or urge.

I’m Not Sure if My Child Has Pica. What are the Symptoms?

Aside from eating non-food items, other symptoms could include things like:

  • Signs of toxicity, such as lead poisoning
  • Parasitic infestation in the GI tract
  • Other GI symptoms, such as ulcers, constipation, etc.
  • Damage to teeth or dental work

Can Counseling With a Trained Pica Therapist Help You Overcome Pica?

 Yes. Along with addressing the physical ailments contributing to an eating disorder, counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy can help our clients with Pica symptoms. Mental health plays a significant part of treating any type of an eating disorder, and Pica is no different.

Through therapy, you can find other types of ways to cope or reinforce sensory needs rather than continue on with the unhealthy ones. This makes it easier to manage the symptoms, as opposed to just cutting them out “cold turkey” and feeling a lack of control. More often than not, there are mental health reasons for why a person seeks the comfort of eating foreign objects or items with specific textures. You just need to find out what they are, so you can address them. 

Finding a Utah Therapist to Help with Pica

Working through the triggers and thought process of self-soothing and seeking comfort from non-food items is a great way to uncover the psychological process behind it. Once you do, our Park City and Salt Lake City therapists and counselors can help you work through finding new ways of behavioral modification and coping strategies.

If you live in the Summit County or Salt Lake City area or are trying to find a Utah counselor that offers in person or remote therapy via teleconference or phone, call The Dell Center for Therapy. We offer experienced care to individuals with Pica, other eating disorders, and their families. We invite you to schedule a consultation at any time!

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If you would like more information about our services or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (801) 447-2666 or submit a free consultation request form.

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