5 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Eating Disorders
Eating disorders (ED) are serious and deadly. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) describes them as illnesses where people have disturbing eating patterns linked to their emotions and thoughts. It’s typically characterized by obsessive thoughts surrounding food and weight.
While treatable, they’re tough to overcome. Do eating disorders run in families? Some research suggests it is. Is recovery a lifelong commitment? Without a doubt.
They commonly occur alongside other health disorders. When this happens it’s called a co-occurring disorder, dual diagnosis, or comorbidity. It’s important to be aware of eating disorder’s information and resources to get treatment quickly. Eating disorders are treatable with the right programs, diet, and mindset.
What Are The Types of Eating Disorders?
There is a wide spectrum of eating disorders. Some are more common and deadly than others. These are examples of eating disorders:
- Anorexia Nervosa (AN) – Doctors will diagnose a person with AN when they weigh at least 15% less than what is healthy for their weight and height. Those suffering from AN generally obsessively limit their food intake, fear gaining weight, and have a problematic body image. People with anorexia might vomit after eating or use laxatives to purge.
- Bulimia Nervosa (BN) – It’s hard to tell when someone is suffering from BN. They often binge eat and then purge their meals through vomiting and using laxatives. What separates BN from AN is binge eating. They’ll eat sugary, high-calorie meals and then fear weight gain.
- Binge Eating Disorder (BED) – The difference between BED and BN is purging. Those suffering from BED will emotionally eat when they feel like they’re not in control. They’ll eat high-calorie meals, won’t purge, and then feel depressed about it afterward.
The three EDs above are the most common ones. However, there is more, like pica and rumination disorder. An eating disorder doesn’t look a certain way. Just because someone isn’t stick-thin doesn’t mean they don’t struggle with one.
Treatment for Eating Disorders in Los Angeles, California
This means that they required psychological treatment. Therapy is a powerful tool to help suffering from eating disorders. Behavioral health and wellness centers in Los Angeles typically provide cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and holistic therapy to help patients get their lives back.
Types of Therapy for Eating Disorders
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This form of therapy stems from the theory that people have negative automatic thoughts that affect their self-image behaviors. Therapists who specialize in CBT walk patients through exercises to help them identify harmful thoughts and change the behaviors that stem from them.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT is similar to CBT. However, it has a focus on validation and working with negative thoughts. People with severe mental illnesses may respond better to DBT than CBT.
- Holistic Therapy: Holistic therapy is a form of treatment that targets the body, mind, and soul. A therapist who specializes in holistic practices might ask patients to do yoga, meditate, and tap into their spirituality.
Myths About Eating Disorders
Myth #1: Eating Disorders Are a Choice
This myth is completely false. There is no ounce of truth to suggest that eating disorders are a choice. Just like any other health problem, no one chooses to have an eating disorder. Those suffering from one may voluntarily vomit or limit the calories they consume. But they involuntarily have the thoughts that lead them to that point.
Plus, certain factors predispose whether or not someone might develop one. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) writes that psychological, interpersonal, biological, and social factors can lead to eating disorders. These factors show an eating disorder is an illness and not a decision:
- Mental illness (ie: depression and anxiety)
- Strained personal relationships
- Physical and sexual abuse
- Societal pressure to look a certain way
- Difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions
- Facing discrimination and prejudice for looking a certain way
- Chemical imbalance
This is an incomplete list. Eating disorders are extremely complex. Scientists aren’t fully aware of all the factors that increase the risk of developing one. Despite this, it’s dangerous to spread the myth that ED is a choice.
Myth #2: Once You Beat an Eating Disorder It’s Gone Forever
The truth is that many people relapse once they recover from ED. Lifetime recovery is only a small goal in comparison to lifelong motivation. NEDA states that “slips, backslides, and relapse tend to be the rule, rather than the exception” when it comes to ED. A person may be fine for years before something triggers old ED habits.
Some patients recover fully, but many don’t. That doesn’t make them a failure. It just means they need to identify why they relapsed in the first place. Do they have a strong support system? Do they feel more overwhelmed than usual? Are they going through a stressful period in their life? Answering these questions can help them get back to the normal life they were living before relapse.
Myth # 3: It’s Easy To Overcome an Eating Disorder
Again, ED is a complex psychological and medical disorder. If a person had cancer it would be outrageous to think they could solve it on their own. The same goes for ED. Those suffering from ED need professional guidance to help them overcome it. Not to mention, untreated ED can result in serious health complications and death.
It’s not easy to treat ED. So, YouTube videos and going outside more won’t cure it. In fact, there isn’t necessarily a “cure” for ED in the first place. A combination of medical assistance, constant self-kindness, and a drastic lifestyle choice can help people get through an eating disorder.
Myth #4: Eating Disorders Aren’t Dangerous
This myth might stem from the myth that eating disorders are a choice. Some might consider them less dangerous than other illnesses because it’s psychological. It deeply affects a person when they starve, binge, and purge. Not only is there a risk of irreparable psychological damage, but it can damage the body in the process.
- Health issues associated with ED are:
- Cardiovascular disturbances
- Stunted growth
- Loss of cognitive functionality
- Gastrointestinal problems
A journal, Vascular Health and Risk Management, writes that ED is associated with untimely deaths. More than that, they write that the ED, anorexia nervosa, can cause sudden death. Scientists aren’t fully aware of how it happens. They think it has something to do with heart complications. However, they do know that anorexia nervosa seems to highly increase the chance of abrupt and unexpected death.
Myth # 5: Eating Disorders Only Affect Women
False, once again. It’s true that more women than men suffer from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa than men. Yet, more men suffer from certain types of disordered eating. For instance, The Journal of Eating Disorders addressed the fact that men suffer from subthreshold binge eating disorder (BED) more than women. Around 2% of men with an ED suffer from this disorder in comparison to 0.6% of women.
Women might be more prone to eating disorders because of societal pressure. It’s no secret that women are pressured into being skinny and look youthful at all times. However, men face harmful beauty standards too. Men are pressured into being muscular and strong.
When is Eating Disorders Awareness Week?
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 22-February 28, 2021. People can spread awareness about the danger of eating disorders and dispel disinformation by getting social. NEDA encourages Americans to use the hashtag #NEDAwareness on social media and encourages them to share their ED story.
NEDA will light up notable buildings, like the Empire State Building, with their signature colors in an attempt to raise awareness. They’ve asked for volunteer photographers to help capture this event. All of these efforts combined can help individuals have a deeper understanding of ED.
Where To Get Free Information About Eating Disorders
NEDA encourages spreading beneficial information about eating disorders. They notify people to use their screening tool to determine whether or not they might have an eating disorder. NEDA has a wealth of eating disorder information to help those suffering from ED.
Additionally, they have a free helpline to talk to trained volunteers about their struggles. All conversations are confidential. NEDA updated its blog and social media with all the latest information on ED. This could be an additional free eating disorder resource for those who need it.
Eating Disorders Information: Montare Behavioral Health Offers Resources and Treatment
It’s harmful to perpetuate myths about eating disorders. And it’s a disservice to yourself if you have an eating disorder and don’t get help. That’s why we provide tools and factual eating disorders information in Los Angeles, California to overcome ED.
Montare Behavioral Health specializes in the prism of mental health recovery. We understand its complexity and know that ED is no exception. We use a combination of holistic and scientific programs to give patients the motivation to live happy, healthy lives.
If you were a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder don’t hesitate to contact us today! There is no shame in getting help with a medical disorder. It would only be a shame if you didn’t.