Now what? – Eating Disorders

Realizing that you or a loved one may be suffering from an eating disorder can be an earthshaking experience. When facing the situation it might be impossible to think about things could ever go back to being normal. Leaving you to ask the million dollar question, “Now what?” Now like any health issue, the road to being in a healthier mental state is not necessarily quick or easy. However the good news is that there are plenty of people along the way who want to help you. While anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating have similar actions that need to take place to seek healing they also have some aspects that unique. The one thing that is almost a constant amongst all three is an underlying mental health issue such as depression.

Treatment for Anorexia:

-In order to conquer the physical challenges of anorexia, a doctor will create a carefully prescribed diet. This will normally start with small calories intakes gradually increasing over time to a healthy amount. This process can be done at home but in severe cases a patient will be admitted to a hospital to insure eating habits are restored.

-The next step is to conquer mental side of anorexia, this breaks down into two areas:

  1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: This type of therapy is prefered by most people with anorexia. It helps a person understand how their thinking, negative self-talk, and negative self-image can impact their behaviors especially eating. This process focuses on finding the root cognitive patterns and working to change them for a positive and healthier lifestyle.
  2. Family Therapy: This type of therapy helps the person with anorexia understand the impact and role they have within their family, and how their eating behaviors maintain that role.

Treatment for Bulimia:

-Just like anorexia, the first step to recovery with bulimia is removing the immediate danger. Depending on how sever the bulimia is it can be hard for people to stop without hospitalization and medication. Once the immediate threat is over their dietary choices are monitored. Outside of this, people with bulimia normally benefit from counseling sessions like with anorexia. In addition to this, antidepressant medications have been useful..

-Just like with anorexia there are two ways you can conquer the cognitive side of bulimia:

(1) Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: This type of therapy is prefered by most people with anorexia. It helps a person understand how their thinking, negative self-talk, and negative self-image can impact their behaviors especially eating. This process focuses on finding the root cognitive patterns and working to change them for a positive and healthier lifestyle.

(2) Family Therapy: This type of therapy helps the person with anorexia understand the impact and role they have within their family, and how their eating behaviors maintain that role.

Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder:

-Just like anorexia and bulimia, binge eating treatment first focuses on the immediate health of the person who has been binge eating. Then the primary focus on psychotherapy to bring about permanent and positive change.

(1) Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: This type of therapy is prefered by most people with anorexia. It helps a person understand how their thinking, negative self-talk, and negative self-image can impact their behaviors especially eating. This process focuses on finding the root cognitive patterns and working to change them for a positive and healthier lifestyle.

(2) Family Therapy: This type of therapy helps the person with anorexia understand the impact and role they have within their family, and how their eating behaviors maintain that role.

 

Despite eating disorders being fairly common, it should not be taken lightly. Eating disorders can be extremely damaging to the person’s health as well as whatever role they play socially, especially within the family. If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder please seek immediate help.
~Be mindful of the mind

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

This is the last of the “big three” of eating disorders. Binge eating is the opposite of anorexia. Where anorexia is self-starvation, binge eating is the disorder that describes someone who is both psychologically and emotionally unable to control their eating habits. It is important to remember that this is not obesity, obesity is a medical illness and not a mental health issue. When someone engages in binge eating it is called an “episode.” For most people who experience binge eating, they experience an episode at least once a week.

According to Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, the criteria for a diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder is:

  • Loss of control over amount of eating
  • Marked distress over binge episode
  • Occurs at least once per week for 3 months

And, THREE or more of the following:

  • Eating more rapidly than normal
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
  • Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed or very guilty after overeating

What makes binge eating such a hard problem to face is that it can easily be hidden from friends and families. If you suspect someone suffers from BED make sure to ask them some questions in order to check-in. If you feel like someone is make sure to support them through the process and get medical help.
~Be mindful of the mind

Bulimia

While anorexia is one of the more well known eating disorders, it is actually bulimia that is the most common eating disorder. According to Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) there an estimated of 1.1 to 4.2 percent of women will have bulimia at one point in their lifetime. Bulimia which is formally called bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by binge eating followed by purging the food in ways such as abusing laxatives/diuretics, exercising obsessively, or inducing vomiting.

What makes bulimia such a hard eating disorder to stop is the fact that it is hard to notice. Anorexia by nature is easier to spot because it is categorized as people with a weight loss of 15% or more of the ideal body weight caused by self starvation. In contrast, people who have bulimia maintain a normal weight making it hard to spot at a first glance. Johns Hopkins state that some warning signs and symptoms of Bulimia include:

  • Rapidly eating large amounts of food, often alone or secretively (binge-eating)
  • A sense of loss of control over eating
  • Excessive dissatisfaction with body shape and weight
  • Feelings of shame and secrecy concerning bulimic behaviors
  • Self-induced vomiting or intermittent starvation
  • Excessive exercise
  • Abuse of laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills

If you notice someone exhibiting these symptoms start engaging them in conversation asking about their eating habits and their motives behind it. As stated in earlier posts, watching what you eat and exercise is not the issue. The issue is the reason and the approach. If you or a loved one is or believes that they may be experiencing bulimia nervosa please reach out and seek help.
~Be mindful of the mind

Anorexia

In the journey of exploring the different aspects of eating disorders, anorexia nervosa will be the first one we cover. Anorexia nervosa or more commonly known as simply anorexia is one of the more well known eating disorders. According to Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) the number of both men and women who suffer from eating disorders in the US reaches 30 million people.That being said, women are more likely to develop an eating disorder compared to men for a variety of reasons. It is estimated that only 5-15% of men will have anorexia, this number can be skewed due to self-reporting and social pressures. The number of American women who will experience anorexia is 1/200. For both women and men the number of those dealing with Anorexia is too high, here is a bit of information on it so you can be educated to help yourself and others if the situation arises.

Anorexia is technically called anorexia nervosa and is characterized by Johns Hopkins Medicine as a form of self-starvation. This can be carried out through fasting, binge-eating, excessive exercise, as well as self-induced vomiting. When a person starts down the road of anorexia they are acting on a belief that they need to lose weight. Just to clarify, losing weight is not the issue here. If done in a healthy manner, losing weight and staying in healthy condition is not wrong, its the way you approach it. Starving yourself has much more adverse side effects that outweigh the simple weight loss. On top of that scientist and health experts have proven that by not eating you actually slow the weight loss process down more than if one simply eats a balanced meal with the daily exercise.

Now just because someone wants to lose weight and goes on a diet does not mean that they are anorexic. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one, look for these symptoms. The most common indicated is seen by a person’s refusal to maintain a body weight which is consistent with their build, height, and age. They express a consistent intense and overwhelming fear of gaining weight, body image, or being fat. The key thing with this symptom is that this occurs regardless of their real weight. This is where the mental health issue comes in. Regardless of what is true the person suffering from anorexia believes that their worth and joy comes from their body’s weight, shape, and size.

After I post the next two eating disorder articles I will go over the treatments and solutions for them. Just because eating disorders are “common” does not meant that they should be taken lightly. Don’t be afraid to get help for yourself or a loved one.

~Be mindful of the mind

Eating

Eating is a normal experience for humans. In fact all living creatures need to eat in one form or another. With eating being so common we forget how it can actually be a struggle for some people. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), a nonprofit that focuses on eating disorders, 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from some form of a significant eating disorder in the United States. This is around 10% of the United States. That is a large percent suffering from something that is so easily overlooked.

Just like other mental health issues eating disorders is a broad category in its own right. While there are many types, according to PsychCentral the main three are Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder. In short Anorexia (Anorexia Nervosa) is the name for simply not eating, Bulimia (Bulimia Nervosa) is excessive eating and then purging the food, then binging is simply binging on excess food.

While any one can be a victim of an eating disorder up to 90% of those affected each year are adolescent and young women. Even more staggering is that eating disorders can affect up to 5% of the teenage girl population. This is due to variety of reasons like the pressures society put on them and what they may be interested in at that age.

Hopefully this has been a quick and intriguing bit on the vast mental health issue that is eating disorders. Throughout this week I will be going over the three main forms eating disorders to better understand this topic.

~Be mindful of the mind