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How To Treat Anorexia

anorexia spelled out

Anorexia nervosa, often referred to as anorexia, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as an eating disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, anorexia is “characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight.” Though anorexia can manifest at any age, research suggests it most commonly develops during adolescence. Individuals that struggle with anorexia engage in a cycle of self-starvation that often results in malnutrition including a lack of essential minerals and nutrients. The list of adverse short and long-term effects of anorexia is extensive, and without proper treatment anorexia can lead to life-threatening consequences. 

Diagnostic Criteria

Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is essential to the recovery process for any mental health illness. Though the symptoms of anorexia can become visibly evident, a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa is reached through a thorough physical and psychological exam. Further, the evaluating provider considers the diagnostic criteria for anorexia, provided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). To be diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, according to the DSM-5, the following criteria must be met:

  • Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements, leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health. Significantly low body weight is defined as a weight that is less than minimally normal, or for children and adolescents, less than that minimally expected. 
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or of becoming fat, or persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain, even though at a significantly low weight.
  • Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of the current low body weight. 

Atypical anorexia is diagnosed when an individual meets the above criteria but despite significant weight loss, is not medically considered underweight. It is important to note that an individual may still be struggling with a serious eating disorder even if all of the DSM-5 criteria for anorexia are unmet. 

Treatment

Every individual is different and will require a tailored treatment plan when it comes to recovering from anorexia. Treatment plans often include a multidisciplinary approach. According to the Mayo Clinic a clinical treatment team for an individual diagnosed with anorexia could include doctors, mental health professionals and dietitians. Depending on the nuanced needs of the individual, the treatment process could include any combination of the following components:

  • Inpatient treatment: intensive, inpatient treatment can help address severe malnutrition and other physical health complications that have developed from one’s eating disorder, settings could include:
    • Hospitalization
    • Inpatient facility
  • Psychotherapy: there are a variety of therapeutic modalities used to help treat individuals with anorexia, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), interpersonal psychotherapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, creative arts therapies, and more. 
  • Medications: certain medications (e.g. antipsychotic: Zyprexa) can be prescribed to help with weight gain
  • Nutrition counseling: used to help individuals learn how to restore normal eating patterns and teach a healthy approach to weight and food

The Mayo Clinic asserts, “One of the biggest challenges in treating anorexia is that people may not want treatment.” Although anorexia is a considered to be a chronic disorder, with proper treatment an individual can learn how to effectively manage its symptoms and go to on lead a healthy and fulfilling life. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Covid’s Impact On Mental Health

man wwearing a mask suffering from mental illness

The 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), also known as COVID-19, is a new disease that has not previously been seen in humans. Clinical Microbiology and Infection (CMI) asserts that COVID-19 “is associated with a respiratory illness that may lead to severe pneumonia, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).” The fact that the method of transmission, severity of symptoms, and long-term affects of coronavirus-19 were largely unknown not only caused worldwide panic and but also initiated the surge of a global pandemic. In efforts to slow the spread of the virus, states all across America instituted social distancing guidelines, implemented sporadic stay-at-home orders for all non-essential workers, prohibited in-restaurant dining, closed schools, theaters, exercise studios, museums, public libraries, and more. Many hospitals around the country prohibited individuals that were not there for treatment from entering the building (e.g. loved ones of patients). Further, due to its highly contagious nature a strict no visitor’s policy was established both in healthcare settings (e.g. designated COVID-19 unites) as well as in the general public (e.g. mandatory quarantine for a minimum of 14 days) for those that tested positive for the virus. Sadly, this too meant that for individuals who became terminal from COVID-19 they would be unable to be in the company of loved ones in their last living moments. 

Mental Health Impact

Nearly every person in America has experienced the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in rare situations where an individual does not have a direct connection to someone who has contracted COVID-19, the pandemic could still negatively affect their mental wellbeing. For example, extroverted individuals that thrive on social interaction were required to adhere to the stay-at-home orders and social distance mandates for extended periods of time, which surely affected their mental state. Some individuals lost family members and/ or loved one’s to COVID-19 and were unable to visit with them, see them or be by their side as they passed, which could gravely imprint an individual’s psyche. Depending on the individual, when contracted, the physical toll the virus can take on an individual can be immense, and the recovery process from COVID-19 can leave an individual vulnerable to lingering adverse effects. Having to deal with newfound, seemingly long-term physical complications can contribute to one’s mental state, and could ignite any dormant mental health ailment. The fear surrounding the unknown was palpable, not only in the United States, but all over the world. There is an endless list of all of the known ways COVID-19 impacted society: individuals developed thorough/ obsessive cleaning rituals to avoid unnecessarily contracting the virus, people spent months on end inside their homes, people stopped obtaining medical services for pre-existing conditions for fear of contracting the virus, and many, many more. Every individual living through these unprecedented times is bound to experience a slew of emotions, some of which may be difficult to navigate as they are directly related to unparalleled times. There are countless layers of how COVID-19 could impact an individual’s mental health. Much like many of the long-term effects of contracting the virus itself remain unknown, the long-term mental health effects of living through this pandemic are unknown yet are sure to be both extensive and profound. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Common Signs Of Borderline Personality Disorder

man with borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder is one of ten personality disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Each of the ten personality disorders is categorized into one of three clusters (cluster A, cluster B and cluster C). The personality disorders that make up each clusters share similar symptoms and have overlapping characteristics. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) cluster A is characterized as odd or eccentric personalities; cluster B is characterized as dramatic, emotional, or erratic personalities; and cluster C is characterized as anxious or fearful personalities. Borderline personality disorder is classified as a cluster C personality disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health explains, “Borderline personality disorder is an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior.” The cause of borderline personality disorder remains unknown. There are, however, certain risk factors (e.g. brain structure and function, genetics, environmental, cultural and social influences, etc.) that have been noted as potentially contributing to its development. Due to the illusive nature of its symptoms paired with the fact that many symptoms overlap with other mental health ailments, BPD is notoriously known as one of the most difficult mental health illnesses to diagnose. 

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of borderline personality disorder typically result in overarching interpersonal relationship complications and impulsive actions. The Mayo Clinic provides examples of signs and symptoms that are commonly exhibited in individuals with borderline personality disorder, some of which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Engaging in risky and/ or impulsive behaviors (i.e. reckless driving, excessive gambling, binge eating, substance abuse, unsafe sex…etc.)
  • Intense fear of abandonment
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Self-injury
  • Severe mood swings (i.e. elation, irritability, shame, anxiety…etc.)
  • Pattern of unstable relationships
  • Irrational displays of anger
  • Distorted self image
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Stress related paranoia

Some individuals may experience numerous symptoms of BPD, while others may only experience a few symptoms. Research has indicated that individuals with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of depression, anxiety and/ or anger that could last from a few hours to several days long. Every individual is different and has the propensity to exhibit a unique combination of signs and symptoms related to borderline personality disorder.

Treatment

Although borderline personality disorder is considered a chronic mental health condition, there are a variety of treatment options available for individuals diagnosed with BPD, which can help individuals, learn to manage their symptoms. The most common method of treatment for borderline personality disorder is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Marsha M. Linehan developed DBT in the late 1980s, specifically to better treat chronically suicidal individuals with borderline personality disorder. Dialectical behavior therapy is based on the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach, and places greater emphasis on the psychosocial aspect of therapy. With proper treatment, an individual diagnosed with borderline personality disorder can learn to effectively navigate his or her symptoms of BPD and go on to lead a happy and fulfilling life. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Is Substance Abuse?

abusing drugs

Johns Hopkins Medicine asserts, “substance abuse is the medical term used to describe a pattern of using a substance (drug) that causes significant problems or distress.” Every individual is different, and each person will react distinctly when foreign substances are introduced to his or her system. The way an individual processes drugs and/ or alcohol will depend on a variety of factors. These can include, but are not limited to: the type of substance ingested, the personal health history of the individual, the individual’s metabolism, if a mixture of substances is ingested, the presence of any co morbid disorders, and more. Some individuals will innately have an increased tolerance to substances, while others may not (e.g. those known as “light-weights” when it comes to drinking alcohol). When individuals abuse substances in a social setting this can lead to dangerous consequences, as some individuals may be unable to “keep up” with others and could be at increased risk for overdose

What Constitutes Substance Abuse?

There are a variety of ways an individual could abuse substances. Some examples of substance abuse are as follows:

  • Habitually engages in illegal substance use
  • Taking legal medications in a way other than prescribed
    • Snorting pills that were intended to be swallowed
    • Increasing the frequency of ingestion
    • Increasing the amount of pills ingested
    • Taking the medication for a longer duration than prescribed
    • Mixing the medication with other substances (e.g. taking medication while drinking alcohol)
  • Taking medications that were prescribed to another individual
  • Drinking alcohol excessively, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes males drinking more than five standard alcoholic drinks within a two-hour period and females drinking more than four standard alcoholic beverages within a two-hour window.
    • One standard drink as provided by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to be:
      • 12 ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol content) 
      • 8 – 9 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
      • 5 ounces of unfortified wine (12% alcohol content)
      • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor (40% alcohol content)

When an individual engages in habitual substance abuse, he or she is at increased risk for developing substance use disorder. Substance use disorder, also known as addiction, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic brain disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli without regard for consequence. Individuals that struggle with addiction will prioritize satisfying drug cravings above all else. This can lead to detrimental consequences affecting all areas of one’s life. 

Most Commonly Abused Substances

There are a variety of both legal and illicit substances that are frequently abused. The substances that are most often abused, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) include the following:

  • Marijuana
  • Alcohol
  • Methamphetamines 
  • Cocaine
  • Hallucinogens
  • Inhalants
  • Opiates 
  • Prescription medicines (e.g. stimulants, anxiety medication, pain pills, etc.)

It is important to note that even individuals with a valid medical prescription for certain controlled substance medications could end up abusing the medication if it is not taken exactly as prescribed. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Marriage Counseling Options In Los Angeles

a couple receiving marriage counseling

Every person is different and each contributes uniqueness to the relationship dynamics that make up a marriage. Much like the roles of each member that make up a family of origin are often firmly established early on, the habits, patterns, and roles in a marriage are often assumed early in the relationship. Few individuals that enter into a marriage fully understand the gravity of the commitment they are making and the personal and combined effort it will take to maintain the sacred bond of marriage, or exit a marriage amicably. As is true with maintaining any authentic relationship, marriage will require active work and dedication. Individuals are evolving people, and as the individuals in a marriage grow and develop, so too must their relationship. As humans age, all will experience shifting desires and changing needs, and the marriage relationship is no exception. A healthy marriage demands the same amount of attention that is reserved for individual evolution. In order for marriage counseling to be truly effective, both members of the relationship must be open to or at the vary least, willing to participate in the therapeutic process. 

Where To Look

Each marriage counselor is different. Not all marriage counselors will resonate with each couple, and when in a situation where the relationship between couple and counselor is less than optimal, it may be best to seek a new marriage-counseling therapist. Los Angeles, California is home to a plethora of qualified couples counseling therapists. Depending on the needs of the couple Los Angeles has many mental health professionals that specialize in marriage counseling, each with differing levels of education, backgrounds, specialties, and experience. When searching for a marriage counselor in Los Angeles, due to the overwhelming number of options, the process could quickly become tedious and for some even anxiety provoking. In effort to alleviate some of the pressure related to the search, consider the following two suggestions:  

  • Ask your network of trusted family and friends for references: even if the recommended therapist is unable to take you on as a client, he or she will likely be able to refer you to someone in his or her professional network.
  • Check out some online sources: many marriage counselors have websites available for potential clients to review and/ or are included in an online compilation of reputable mental health professionals.
  • Ask your primary care provider (PCP): check with your primary care provider to see if they are able to refer you to a marriage counselor that they recommend.
  • Ask us for help: We have years of experience in marriage counseling. And if we are unable to help, we can refer you to someone who can.

The nuanced needs that present in each individual that make up the marriage, respectively, that affect the relationship as a whole will greatly inform the scope and therapeutic strategies used in couples counseling. It is important to bear in mind that not all couples that enter marriage counseling are necessarily in crisis or experiencing relationship fractures. Some may feel that they would simply like to improve certain areas of their relationship, increase communication efficacy, or preemptively learn useful tools to maintain their healthy marriage. Ultimately, the reason behind why a couple enters marriage counseling is entirely personal. There are a variety of benefits that can develop as a result of marriage counseling. Marriage counseling can help individuals learn coping mechanisms, effective communication strategies, and healthy conflict resolution tactics, all of which can be implemented in the couples relationship to enhance the marriage. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Treatment Options for Alcoholism

male alcoholic

Alcoholism, also referred to as alcohol use disorder, is a chronic disease that will affect all areas of one’s life. According to the Mayo Clinic, “it is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptom when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.” An individual that is addicted to alcohol will prioritize satisfying his or her alcohol cravings above all else. This can invariably lead to physical complications, relationship fractures, financial strain, legal problems, and more. There are a variety of treatment options available for individuals struggling with alcohol use disorder.

Detox

Prior to attending a formal substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program, an individual that has struggled with alcohol abuse must undergo detox. Detox is the process that rids one’s body of all abused substances. When an individual has habitually abused alcohol, his or her system will become accustomed to functioning with it present. When alcohol is removed from one’s system it will react accordingly and withdrawal symptoms will ensue. Though the withdrawal symptoms that accompany detoxing from alcohol are not inherently life threatening, many can cause severe discomfort, and support throughout the duration of the detox program via a medically supervised detox is recommended. Subsequent to the detox process, an individual that has struggled with alcohol abuse should seek formalized substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment. 

Treatment Options

Every person is different and will require a somewhat customized treatment plan when it comes to recovering from alcoholism. There are two main types of substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment programs, which are inpatient treatment programs and outpatient treatment programs. Inpatient treatment options require an individual to reside at the treatment facility for the duration of the program, whereas outpatient treatment options do not. Though the structure of the programs differs, both have the same primary goal: to help an individual become sober and healthy. Treatment programs can vary in length, typically ranging between twenty-one days long to three months long, in some cases longer. Each inpatient and outpatient substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program is different. Substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment programs are often comprised of a variety of treatment methods (e.g. individual psychotherapy, group therapy, creative arts therapies, etc.). Both options, inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment, can yield successful results, depending on the needs of the individuals. 

Aftercare

Developing an aftercare plan is an integral component of any type of formalized substance and/ or addiction treatment. An aftercare plan provides general suggestions and personal recommendations for an individual to refer to after he or she has completed the substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program. An aftercare plan can be an excellent resource as it often includes relapse prevention strategies as well as provides tailored guidance for an individual to maintain continued sobriety.

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

The Most Common Causes of Divorce

two broken hearts in divorce case

No two individuals share an identical personality, and the same is true for a relationship: no two relationships are the same. Every individual is different, and each person brings a uniqueness that contributes to the dynamic of a relationship. In the not so distant past, due factors largely remaining unknown, (though many speculate it to be directly related to culturally and/ or socially enforced stigma) divorce was a relatively rare phenomenon in America. Even though the overall divorce rates appear to be declining, still, according to American Psychological Association about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in America end in divorce. 

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) conducted a study to better understand the cause for divorce in America. The study included a sample size of fifty-two people (twenty-one men and thirty-one women) who had been involved in a “prevention and relationship enhancement program” (PREP) that focused on teaching couples conflict resolution skills and effective communication strategies. The PREP course occurred before the couples were married, but the study surveyed the fifty-two individuals fourteen years after they had participated in PREP. The findings indicate the top four causes of divorce to be the following: 

  • 75% was due to a lack of commitment: Although marriage is often thought to be the ultimate commitment, an article published in Couples & Family Psychology reports the highest percentage of those of divorced is due to a lack of commitment. 
  • 59.6% was due to infidelity: the study found infidelity and extramarital affairs to be the second largest contributing factor and turning point, instigating the demise of marriages.
  • 57.7% was due to excessive arguing: couples that lacked communication skills and/ or effective conflict resolution strategies were unable to wholly resolve conflicts and arguments, which were in turn left to fester and erode the relationship. As reported in the survey findings, “communication problems increased in frequency and intensity throughout their marriages, which at times seemed to coincide with lost feelings of positive connections and mutual support.”
  • 36.1% was due to financial problems: though many couples did not explicitly identify financial difficulties as the primary reason for divorce, they did allude to the repercussions directly related to financial difficulties (e.g. relationship stress, relationship tension, etc.) to be contributing factors.

Nowadays, not only has divorce become largely normalized in American society but also it had been steadily increasing until 2019. The National survey results compiled from the American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau point to a slight decline in the divorce rates in the United States, asserting that in 2019 for every 1,000 marriages only 14.9 ended in divorce. This is the lowest divorce rate American has seen in the past 50 years, including lower than in 1970 when out of every 1,000 marriages 15 ended in divorce.

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Are The Causes Of Alcoholism?

denying an alcoholic drink

In the not so distant past, alcoholism carried a strong stigma as individuals struggling with alcoholism were viewed as weak, thoughtless individuals that lacked self-control and often relied on the use of poor judgment. Nowadays, alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is an addiction to alcohol, which is a chronic mental health disease characterized by uncontrolled drinking and preoccupation with alcohol. The Mayo Clinic more specifically defines alcohol use disorder as “a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.” Individuals that struggle with alcoholism will prioritize satisfying their alcohol cravings above all else, without regard for the inevitable ensuing of negative consequences. This can affect not only one’s physical and emotional wellbeing, but also all areas of one’s life, which often include employment challenges, damaged relationships, legal complications, financial troubles, and more. 

Risk Factors

The precise scientific reason behind why an individual develops alcoholism remains unknown. There are, however, several risk factors that have been reported as potentially playing a role in increasing one’s susceptibility to alcoholism, which include the following:

  • Biological factors: research has found a close link between genetics/ physiology and alcoholism. 
  • Environmental Factors: people exposed to heavy alcohol consumption at a young age may be more likely to develop alcohol use disorder than those who are not. 
  • Social Factors: social situations where alcohol consumption is encouraged and/ or widely acceptable essentially provides an individual with permission to engage in unhealthy drinking.
  • Psychological Factors: individuals who suffer from other mental health conditions are more likely to abuse drugs and/ or alcohol. 

Additional factors such as one’s personal drinking history, the age an individual began drinking, low-self esteem, peer pressure to drink, and experiencing high levels of stress can also influence alcohol abuse and addiction. While it may be true that some individuals are likely predisposed to alcoholism more than others, it is important to note that depending on several factors, including one’s behaviors, anyone has the propensity to go on to develop an addiction to alcohol. 

Treatment

If left untreated, alcoholism can lead to severe short and long-term physical and psychological effects, and in some cases death. There are a variety of treatment options for an individual struggling with alcoholism. An individual that has habitually engaged in excessive alcohol abuse will need to complete detox as the initial stage of his or her treatment process, so as to rid the body of all foreign substances. Often detox from alcohol will include a slew of adverse withdrawal symptoms, some of which could include nausea, vomiting, intense anxiety, hallucinations, seizures, and more. After the completion of detox, subsequent treatment is often recommended. Alcoholism takes time to develop, hence it should be understood treatment is not instantaneous, rather it is often a life-long process. Depending on the needs of the individual there are inpatient substance abuse and addiction treatment program options as well as outpatient options. During any type of substance abuse or addiction treatment program, an individual will develop an aftercare plan. When adhered to, aftercare plans can be useful resources to help with continued sobriety and successful, long-term recovery. 

How To Treat Binge Eating Disorder

woman in dbt session

Binge eating disorder (BED) is a mental health illness that is classified as an eating disorder, and is listed as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Binge eating disorder is currently known to be the most common eating disorder in America. The National Eating Disorder Association (NIDA) define binge eating disorder as “severe, life-threatening, and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g. purging) to counter the binge eating.” If left untreated, binge eating disorder and its associated symptoms could result in an individual developing severe short and long-term physiological consequences. 

Signs and Symptoms

There are a variety of signs and symptoms that could manifest in an individual struggling with binge eating disorder. Examples of common signs and symptoms could include any combination of the following, as provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Eating in secret
  • Eating alone
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Feeling ashamed, depressed, disgusted, and/ or guilty about eating
  • Frequent dieting, possibly without weight loss
  • Feeling out of control with regard to one’s eating behaviors

While most individuals diagnosed with binge eating disorder are overweight or obese, an individual could remain in the normal weight-range and still struggle with BED. 

Treatment

The first step in treating binge eating disorder is to obtain a proper diagnosis from a qualified medical and/ or mental healthcare provider. However, it can be helpful to understand the general diagnostic criteria of BED, which according to the DSM-5 include:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating, which is characterized by both:
    • A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode
    • Excessively overeating (an amount that is greater than the norm) in a short period of time (e.g. within a two hour period)
  • Binge eating episodes include three (or more) of the following:
    • Eating large amounts of food when not hungry
    • Eating far more rapidly than normal
    • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
    • Feeling ashamed, depressed, guilty and/ or disgusted with oneself after eating
    • Eating alone due to embarrassment related to the quantity of food consumed
  • Marked distress regarding binge eating behavior
  • Binge eating episodes occur (on average) at least once a week for three months
  • No engagement of unhealthy compensatory behaviors after binge eating (e.g. purging)

Every individual is different and will be faced with nuanced challenges and unique needs when it comes to treating BED. Hence, it is common practice for binge eating disorder treatment plans to be tailored and include customized combinations of various therapeutic approaches so as to ensure all of the individual’s specific needs a fully accommodated. Treatment plans could comprise of any combination of the following components:

Depending on one’s specific needs it is not uncommon to emphasize establishing healthy daily habits, such as obtaining ample nightly sleep, practicing regular mindfulness techniques (i.e. yoga, meditation, etc.), and engaging in health daily exercise. Recovering from binge eating disorder will be a life-long journey, but with the proper guidance, continued commitment, and support, an individual diagnosed with BED can go on to live a healthy and fulfilling life.

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

woman with hands in face

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental health illness that is one of ten personality disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). According to National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), BPD is characterized by “pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior.” This instability interferes with one’s ability to function in his or her daily life, long-term planning, as wells as an individual’s sense of identity. Individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder often experience swift mood swings, including intense episodes of depression, anger and/ or anxiety that could last as short as a couple of hours to as long as several days. The symptoms associated with BPD frequently result in highly unstable patterns of social relationships. This chronic condition is also associated with high rates of self-injury and suicidal behavior.

Signs and Symptoms

Every individual is different and will exhibit a somewhat unique set of BPD signs and symptoms. The Mayo Clinic provides several commonly reported signs and symptoms to include the following:

  • Intense fear of abandonment
  • Rapid changes in self-image and self-identity 
  • Impulsive, risky and/ or dangerous behavior (i.e. engaging in unprotected sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, gambling, etc.)
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Wide and extreme mood swings
  • Periods of stress-related paranoia
  • Self-inflicted social isolation
  • Ongoing feelings of emptiness
  • Irrational, inappropriate, and/ or intense bouts of anger

It is important to note that any combination of the above signs and symptoms could manifest as a result of BPD. The severity and length of time they persist will vary, as they will depend on each individual. 

Causes

While there is no singular reason behind why an individual develops borderline personality disorder, there are several contributing factors that have been noted as potentially increasing one’s susceptibility to BPD. These factors can include, but are not limited to the follow, as provided by the National Institute of Mental Health

  • Genetics: people with a family history (i.e. parent, sibling, etc.) with BPD may be at increased risk of developing borderline personality disorder. Psychology Today assert that BPD is approximately five times more common among people with close biological relatives with BPD. 
  • Environmental factors: growing up in an unstable, neglectful, and/ or abusive environment could increase one’s risk for developing BPD. 
  • Brain factors: some studies have indicated that individuals diagnosed with BPD have structural and/ or functional abnormalities, specifically in the areas of the brain that reign over one’s emotional regulation and impulse control. Furthermore, deviations from typical serotonin (hormone that works to stabilize one’s mood, happiness and feelings of well-being) production could increase one’s susceptibility to BPD. 

Treatment

The nuanced needs of an individual diagnosed with borderline personality disorder will inform his or her individualized treatment plan. Individualized treatment plans could comprise of a variety of therapeutic modalities some of which could include individual psychotherapy, group therapy, and/ or creative arts therapies. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), was specifically designed to help treat individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Since it was developed in the late 1980s, it is highly common for DBT to be integrated into one’s treatment plan, as it has become the gold standard for treating BPD. Components such as nutritious eating habits, frequent self-care practices, engaging in regular exercise, obtaining ample sleep, and practicing various relaxation techniques (i.e. yoga, meditation, etc.) can also be included in one’s treatment plan. Recovery from BPD will require steadfast commitment, and will be a life-long process. With proper mental health treatment and support, an individual diagnosed with borderline personality disorder can go on to live a healthy and fulfilling life.