Mon. Nov 28th, 2022


Pica is a condition where sufferers compulsively eat non-nutritive substances, such as ice, clay, or paint chips. It’s more common among children than adults but can develop at any age. Pica often occurs along with other conditions such as iron deficiency anemia and mental health problems. Fortunately PICA is a treatable condition and a good psychiatrist can help a lot.

Pica: what is it?

Pica is the eating of non-nutritive substances. It is not well understood, but it’s theorized that this behavior stems from an imbalance of nutrients in the brain. Specifically, pica has been linked to iron deficiency and other nutrient deficiencies.

It may be caused by a lack of nutrients or other physical disorders (such as iron deficiency). In these cases, treatment is often as simple as getting additional food sources or supplements with the missing elements. Therapy can also help people understand why they might have been eating non-food items in the first place and how to cope with it in healthier ways than just consuming something new every day.

Pica is not considered an eating disorder because there are rarely any psychological components involved with this disorder—it’s more like a physical need rather than a psychological one—but many people suffering from pica do suffer from mental health issues like anxiety and depression; it’s unclear if those conditions lead to pica or vice versa but studies show high levels among patients who exhibit both types over time (1).

What are the symptoms of pica?

The most common symptom associated with pica is eating non-food items, such as dirt or clay. If you are experiencing these symptoms and suspect that they may be related to pica, it is important to visit your doctor for a full evaluation.

Pica can also show up in other ways. For example, if someone has an iron deficiency, they may develop a craving for ice cubes or other frozen treats that contain high levels of sodium chloride (table salt). This craving could be beneficial or harmful depending on whether the person has been diagnosed with pica or not; if it does indicate an iron deficiency then taking supplements will help treat this condition—but if not then excessive ice consumption can lead to dehydration and other complications that may require medical attention.

What causes pica?

Pica is a disorder of the mind that causes people to eat non-food items.

The causes of pica are not well understood. They may include:

  • Anemia due to iron deficiency or zinc deficiency
  • Mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia)

Pica can also be caused by a lack of nutrients in the body, which is why pregnant women and young children are at higher risk for developing this disorder than other groups of people.

Who is at risk for pica?

Anyone can develop pica, but it’s most common in pregnant women and children. Pregnant women are at risk because of all the changes going on in their bodies during pregnancy. They may crave something that is not food or eats things that are not food because they’re trying to make up for cravings they cannot satisfy with what is available to them. Children sometimes have an iron deficiency and will eat dirt because they think it will help them get better. People with developmental disabilities might also develop pica if they are unable to communicate how they feel or do not understand why they’re feeling so hungry.

People with mental illness may also experience pica due to the effects of medications or other factors related to their condition. Eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge-eating disorder (BED) can lead people into unhealthy eating habits that include excessive gum chewing, drinking water, hoarding ice chips, etc., as well as eating nonedible items such as paper towels or tissues stuffed inside socks. This can affect overall health by damaging teeth enamel or causing intestinal blockages due to ingestion of large amounts of fiber-rich material such as sandpaper or other rough objects found around your home or workplace.

Pica isn’t usually diagnosed until someone has been evaluated by several specialists who might include neurologists specializing in movement disorders; neuropsychologists specializing in brain function; endocrinologists who focus on hormone imbalances; psychiatrists specializing in behavioral disorders; gastroenterologists who specialize in digestive system diseases; gynecologists who specialize in reproductive health care issues related specifically toward females rather than males.; pediatricians specializing exclusively in infants/children ages 0 -18 years old; dentists specializing solely upon oral cavity diseases and surgery interventions focused specifically upon teeth rather than any other body parts

How is pica treated?

  • Psychological therapy: If a person’s pica is caused by a psychiatric illness, such as schizophrenia or autism spectrum disorder, then the underlying condition should be treated. In some cases, pica may be an early sign of an eating disorder.
  • Medication: In rare circumstances when other therapies have failed to work effectively, doctors may prescribe medications to help reduce cravings for non-food items and prevent patients from eating them. These drugs include antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac), which seems to reduce cravings in people who have the obsessive-compulsive disorder; antipsychotics such as olanzapine (Zyprexa) and risperidone (Risperdal); and lithium carbonate, which is used to treat bipolar disorder.*Nutritional counseling: A dietitian can recommend nutritional strategies that will help you avoid foods that trigger your cravings while still providing all the nutrients your body needs.*Lifestyle changes: You can make lifestyle changes that also reduce cravings for non-food items if you find these helpful in keeping down your food intake. For example, smoking cigarettes has been found to increase the risk of developing Pica.*Parental support: Parents may feel responsible for their child’s Pica behavior because they did not provide enough nutrition during childhood or because they were too busy working outside of home.*Be aware of children who may be at risk: Parents should watch carefully for signs that their child might develop Pica later on in life after seeing another family member with this condition.*Be understanding of the challenges faced by those recovering from Pica behaviors

Pica sufferers need to receive the proper treatment to overcome the disorder.

Pica sufferers need to receive the proper treatment to overcome the disorder.

The first step in finding a cure is making sure you’re getting help from a professional. Whether it’s a psychologist or psychiatrist, doctor or general practitioner—someone who can treat your pica will help get you back on track and ensure that this disorder won’t interfere with your life any longer. And if you happen to be under 18 years old, your parents must be involved in finding a solution as well.

Some people who suffer from pica find success through medication therapy or even hypnotherapy and counseling sessions with psychologists or psychiatrists respectively; others may attempt an alternative method like biofeedback therapy (which uses electrical impulses). However, these methods aren’t guaranteed success: they still rely on each person’s individual preferences as well as their willingness to accept change.


Pica is a condition that affects many people in the world, but thankfully it is also one that can be treated. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with pica, make sure to seek out help from a professional who can provide treatment and support.

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