Why Can This Be Hard To Manage
There are a number of reasons people might struggle with body image and eating disorders. Many people struggle with an eating disorder without any family or friends noticing, because eating disorders often entail shame and secrecy. Additionally, negative body image and eating disorders tend to be rooted in deeper psychological struggles, such as low self-esteem and feelings of helplessness. Anorexia nervosa tends to be linked with perfectionism, while bulimia nervosa is linked with impulsiveness. Once people start engaging in abnormal eating patterns, these habits become more deeply ingrained and harder to shake.
How Does Anorexia Develop
As with other eating disorders, there is no single known cause, but many factors play into the development of anorexia. How does anorexia start? Its not totally clear but your risk increases if you have a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, with an eating disorder. Obsessive-compulsive personality traits, such as perfectionism and sensitivity, are usually associated with anorexia.
Genetics appear to play a major role, though researchers are just beginning to figure out which genes are involved and what type of changes to those genes put people at higher risk of developing anorexia. Genetic scientists have pinpointed genes linking anorexia to depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Researchers have also discovered that certain metabolism genes linked to fat burning, physical activity, and resistance to type 2 diabetes appear to combine with those genes linked to psychiatric conditions, and that combination appears to increase the risk of developing anorexia.
While interesting, these discoveries are really just a drop in the research bucket, since there are likely to be hundreds of thousands of genes involved in the development of anorexia, just as there are in the development of so many other diseases and disorders.
Signs And Symptoms Of An Eating Disorder
Many people mistakenly believe that only young women are affected by eating disorders. But anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of gender, age, or social status.
Some of the signs of an eating disorder include:
- Significant and sudden weight changes
- Talking about being overweight despite being a normal weight or underweight
- Avoiding situations that involve eating
- Frequently overeating, even when not hungry or to the point of discomfort
- Forced vomiting after excessive eating
- Abuse of Diet Pills or Stimulants to lose weight
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Types Of Eating Disorders
The most common eating disorders are:
Anorexia. People with anorexia starve themselves out of an intense fear of becoming fat. Despite being underweight or even emaciated, they never believe theyre thin enough. In addition to restricting calories, people with anorexia may also control their weight with exercise, diet pills, or purging.
Bulimia. Bulimia involves a destructive cycle of bingeing and purging. Following an episode of out-of-control binge eating, people with bulimia take drastic steps to purge themselves of the extra calories. In order to avoid weight gain they vomit, exercise to excess, fast, or take laxatives.
Binge Eating Disorder. People with binge eating disorder compulsively overeat, rapidly consuming thousands of calories in a short period of time. Despite feelings of guilt and shame over these secret binges, they feel unable to control their behavior or stop eating even when uncomfortably full.
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What Is Anorexia Nervosa
People with anorexia nervosa avoid food, severely restrict food, or eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Even when they are dangerously underweight, they may see themselves as overweight. They may also weigh themselves repeatedly.
There are two subtypes of anorexia nervosa: a restrictive subtype and binge-purge subtype.
Restrictive: People with the restrictive subtype of anorexia nervosa place severe restrictions on the amount and type of food they consume.
Binge-Purge: People with the binge-purge subtype of anorexia nervosa also place severe restrictions on the amount and type of food they consume. In addition, they may have binge eating and purging behaviors .
- Brain damage
- Multiorgan failure
Anorexia can be fatal. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. People with anorexia may die from medical conditions and complications associated with starvation by comparison, people with others eating disorders die of suicide.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK , 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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Causes Of Eating Disorders
While eating disorders typically appear in the teen years or young adulthood, eating disorders can develop in those younger or older than that. Eating disorders can occur in people of all genders. Eating disorders are not caused by vanity and fad diets alone. Biological, psychological, and societal influences can all contribute to an eating disorder.
How Parents Can Recover From An Eating Disorder
You may feel completely stretched and as if you cant possibly treat your own eating disorder symptoms while you are pursuing your childs health. But this is not an either/or situation. Both of you must get treatment, and your healing will most likely accelerate your childs recovery.
Recovery from an eating disorder doesnt need to take over your life or cost a ton of money. Here are some steps an adult can take to recover from an eating disorder:
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How Does An Eating Disorder Begin
Eating disorders dont happen overnight they can develop over the course of a few months or a few years. Like with any mental health condition, eating disorders, begin differently for each person. For some, it may be losing a few pounds and enjoying the way their body looks with less weight, for others it may be finding comfort in food, and still, for others, it may begin due to depression, stressful triggers, or trauma.
Those with anorexia have significant weight loss from restricting calories, often not realizing how underweight they may be and perceiving themselves as fat, despite a dangerously low body weight. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental health condition and claims the lives of an estimated 10-20% individuals due to complications. Associated with a distorted sense of body image, anorexia is closely linked to depression.
Bulimia is characterized by cycles of binge eating followed by purging the body of unwanted calories. The sequence can be triggered by stress, anxiety, depression, and a lack of control. Individuals who have bulimia might feel regret after a binge, but find comfort and well-being following a purge. Purging can bring a sense of control and ease in the stress and anxiety someone may be feeling. Often consuming between 3,400 calories in as little as an hour or as many as 20,000 calories in eight hours, those with bulimia may repeat the cycle several times in a week.
Signs Of An Eating Disorder
Eating disorders can sometimes mask themselves as other things.
People who arent getting adequate food intake often experience a lower or anxious mood, and theyre more likely to withdraw socially, Van Huysse says. They may seem depressed, but when we treat the eating issue the depression dissipates.
Common indicators of an eating disorder include:
Dramatic or frequent fluctuations in weight
Preference to make ones own meals, not have what others are having or eating something different from the rest of the family
Extreme food restrictions
Feelings of guilt after eating
Frequently weighing self
If you suspect a loved one or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, its important to offer help and support.
However, maintaining sensitivity is key.
Van Huysse suggests gently pointing out observations in a nonconfrontational way, replacing I think you have an eating disorder with something like Ive noticed youve been having a hard time when we go out to dinner together it seems like youre not ordering anything to eat. Is something going on?
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How Becoming Recovered Can Improve Quality Of Life
A constant preoccupation with controlling weight and tending to other eating disorder symptoms can decimate quality of life for patients and people in their support system. With the completion of a great eating disorder treatment program, however, people can restore their quality of life and strengthen connections with those in their inner social circle.
The treatment program focuses on teaching patients how to maintain a healthy weight and exercise routine without the use of overly restrictive behaviors and thought patterns. Upon leaving the treatment center, patients can utilize their skills to effortlessly maintain a healthy relationship with food and physical activity. The elimination of all eating disorder symptoms during the treatment process gives patients their lives back. Without these disordered thoughts and behaviors dominating the day, patients can work on their personal and professional goals without disruption.
Before entering eating disorder treatment programs, many people first experience a huge quality of life dip that has a ripple effect across their inner social circle. With help from a skilled eating disorder therapist, all quality of life decreases can be reversed with a return to healthy eating and exercise patterns.
Parents Who Have Been Diagnosed With An Eating Disorder
Eating disorders are not as uncommon as we think they are. In fact, an estimated 10% of Americans have eating disorders. If you have a PTA meeting with 20 parents, two people in the room may have/had an eating disorder.
Did you go through formal eating disorder treatment? If so, you know how hard it is to recover. An eating disorder is a mental health condition that is centered on the body and food. In our society, bodies are under tremendous pressure. Meanwhile, food is either super or junk. A fear of fat and food makes a lot of sense.
Eating disorders are notoriously hard to treat. So even if you went through a formal program, you may remain in a semi-recovered state. While your worst symptoms may be under control, you are still suffering.
Or maybe you know that your eating disorder is still raging. You just havent been able to spend the time getting better. Its a lot of effort, and maybe you have just resigned yourself to having an eating disorder. That is certainly everyones choice. But it can get harder to do this if your child is diagnosed and you want them to recover.
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What Treatment Is Available For Eating Disorders
As eating disorders are difficult to beat alone, it is advisable to talk to someone as soon as possible. This type of illness can lead to a range of mental and physical health problems and can quickly spiral out of control if left untreated.
The sooner you get the treatment you need, the sooner you can start to look forward to a healthy life and a full recovery. For most people, the first port of call will be their GP. However, it is worth noting that there is a huge demand on the NHS for treatment services. With that in mind, we urge you to get in touch with us here at Addiction Helper today. We can provide you with information about the various treatment providers based around the UK and can help by providing you with a free assessment and referral should you wish. Contact us today for information.
What Is Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa is a condition where people have recurrent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over their eating. This binge eating is followed by behaviors that compensate for the overeating to prevent weight gain, such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors. Unlike those with anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa may maintain a normal weight or be overweight.
Symptoms and health consequences of bulimia nervosa include:
- Chronically inflamed and sore throat
- Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
- Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth from exposure to stomach acid when vomiting
- Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
- Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
- Severe dehydration from purging
- Electrolyte imbalance , which can lead to stroke or heart attack
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The Three Most Common Eating Disorders & Their Symptoms
Eating disorders are much more complex than simply over or under-eating. They come with a diverse set of symptoms and conditions unique to each patient, rising from a variety of biological factors, family dynamics and social pressures of their peer group or chosen profession. Additionally, ones own personality traits such as addiction, perfectionism or obsessiveness can contribute to falling into an eating disorder. While the most common demographic for eating disorders is young women, anyone from older adults to Olympic athletes can develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
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Coming to the realization and acceptance that your child is developing an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder is a difficult scenario for any family. While eating disorders can begin at any age, late adolescence and young adulthood are the main periods of onset. However, more and more often, clinicians and therapists are seeing eating disorders like anorexia nervosa beginning earlier than ever, even as young as age 8. Thankfully there are helpful resources available for parents, siblings, and other loved ones to help secure treatment.
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Avoidant/restrictive Food Intake Disorder
ARFID is when someone avoids certain foods, limits how much they eat or does both.
Beliefs about weight or body shape are not reasons why people develop ARFID.
Possible reasons for ARFID include:
- negative feelings over the smell, taste or texture of certain foods
- a response to a past experience with food that was upsetting, for example, choking or being sick after eating something
- not feeling hungry or just a lack of interest in eating
What Can I Do To Help My Teenager Get Help For Anorexia Nervosa Or Another Eating Disorder
It cant be stressed enough that early intervention is the key to a full recovery from eating disorders.Being aware of the early warning signs and consulting a doctor, psychiatrist, or mental health professional early on dramatically increase that chance.Parents may wish to raise the issue of their childs eating habits gently but firmly before consulting a professional, but if they are resistant or not forthcoming, its wise to make an appointment.
Securing medical and mental health care, in combination, are essential to reversing the slide into disordered eating behaviors. Other important things parents can do include:
- Making sure regular physicals are kept
- Taking to a professional ED counselor even before talking to their child
- Coordinate treatment between your doctor, an eating disorder treatment facility, and the childs school system to ensure they dont fall behind
- Reach out for support from other parents of children with eating disorders, local community services, etc.
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How To Create A Healthier Relationship With Food And Body Image
Experts find that its helpful to introduce and practice new thought patterns related to your body and your self-image. These could include:
- Appreciate all of the activities your body can do, and celebrate the amazingness of what your body does for you
- Practice seeing yourself as a whole person by keeping a list of things that you like about yourself that dont relate to your weight or body shape
- Remind yourself that confidence, self-acceptance, and openness make you beautiful
- Surround yourself with positive people who value you, and others, for personality and not appearance
- Look for, become critical of, and protest social media messages that make you feel bad about your body
Physical Health Repercussions Of Eating Disorder
Without an adequate intake of food, and often in the face of excessive daily exercise, patients can suffer physical health repercussion from eating disorders rather quickly. The physical symptoms may initially manifest as stomach cramps, dizziness, fainting spells, dry skin, brittle nails, and muscle weakness. Weight loss may not actually be immediately noticeable, but will likely become obvious as the eating disorder progresses in severity.
As the low-calorie intake, and resulting vitamin deficiencies, continue to worsen, so do the physical symptoms. People with eating disorders start to grow fine hair all over their body, suffer tooth decay and damage, experience salivary gland swelling and other serious complications. Dehydration is almost always a concern as eating disorder symptoms worsen and take hold of daily life.
In the end, untreated eating disorders can even cause lasting damage to the internal organs, including the heart, kidneys, and liver. These physical symptoms tend to worsen the disordered thoughts and behaviors, as self-confidence decreases even further. The physical symptoms can also impair daily life by preventing freedom of movement and independent living. People with severe dizziness, for example, may not be able to drive themselves around until they are ready to complete treatment with help from an experienced therapist. Mental health complications can also impede daily life for people with untreated eating disorders.
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Risk Factors For Specific Eating Disorders
Risk factor research focuses on identifying traits or experiences that precede the development of a specific disorder . For a risk factor to be shown as a causal factor, the risk factor must be shown to come before the development of the eating disorder. It also must be capable of being manipulated to prevent the occurrence of the disorder. For example, smoking is a causal risk factor for lung cancer it comes before the development of the disease, and not smoking reduces ones risk of developing lung cancer.
Because eating disorders are relatively rare and diverse disorders, it is difficult and expensive to perform the kinds of large and long-term studies needed to better assess risk factors.
To date, there is limited risk factor research that has successfully demonstrated causality, but a 2015 research study found these causal risk factors for eating disorders.