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Families in Focus: Supporting Eating Disorder Recovery Together

Eating-Disorder-Recovery

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapeutic modality that emphasizes the psychosocial aspect of treatment. Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan developed DBT in the late 1980s as a means to more effectively treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Psychology Today explains that the “goal of DBT is to transform negative thinking patterns and destructive behaviors into positive outcomes.” DBT combines standard cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques for emotional regulation and reality testing with psycho-educational modules and concepts derived from Buddhist meditative practice such as awareness, mindfulness, and attentiveness to current situations and emotional experiences. Since its inception, dialectical behavior therapy has been and remains the gold standard method of treatment for individuals diagnosed with BPD and has also proven effective in treating a wide range of other mental health issues, including teen substance abuse and addiction.

Dialectical behavior therapy is a comprehensive, multifaceted, rigidly structured therapeutic approach that is carried out in three different therapeutic settings: weekly individual psychotherapy (one-on-one therapy) sessions; weekly DBT skills training group sessions, and as-needed phone coaching. Participants engage in individualized and collective treatment by focusing on the four modules of DBT, which are: core mindfulness (focusing skills), distress tolerance (crisis survival skills), emotion regulation (de-escalation skills), and interpersonal effectiveness (social/ relationship skills). DBT relies on a hierarchy of treatment targets to help the therapist determine the order in which problems should be addressed. DBT plays a crucial role in teen substance abuse treatment. As explained in the open-access journal, Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, DBT’s substance-abuse–specific behavioral targets include:

  • Decreasing abuse of substances, including illicit drugs and legally prescribed drugs taken in a manner not prescribed.
  • Alleviating physical discomfort associated with abstinence and/ or withdrawal.
  • Diminishing urges, cravings, and temptations to abuse.
  • Avoiding opportunities and cues to abuse, for example by burning bridges to persons, places, and things associated with drug abuse and by destroying the telephone numbers of drug contacts, getting a new telephone number, and throwing away drug paraphernalia.
  • Reducing behaviors conducive to drug abuse, such as momentarily giving up the goal to get off drugs and instead functioning as if the use of drugs cannot be avoided.
  • Increasing community reinforcement of healthy behaviors, such as fostering the development of new friends, rekindling old friendships, pursuing social/ vocational activities, and seeking environments that support abstinence and frown upon behaviors related to drug abuse.

Studies have found that DBT can improve quality of life and self-control as well as reduce hopelessness. DBT aims to help teenagers cultivate healthy coping mechanisms and useful techniques for managing stress, regulating emotions, and improving relationships with others, all of which can promote long-term recovery.

For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.

 Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.

OUR KNOWLEDGEABLE ADMISSIONS TEAM CAN BE REACHED 24/7 AT INFO@PACIFICRTC.COM OR CALL: (866) 602-5512

We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

Behind the Mask: Understanding Eating Disorders Beyond Appearance

Eating Disorders

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) specifically defines eating disorders as “serious medical illnesses marked by severe disturbances to a person’s eating behavior.” There are different types of eating disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. While these disorders often manifest in physical changes, it is crucial to understand that the root causes and impacts go beyond appearance. Here is a deeper look at the factors involved:

  • Psychological and Emotional Components:
    • Eating disorders are complex mental health issues involving emotional and psychological factors. Individuals may use food and body image to cope with underlying emotional struggles, stress, trauma, or a need for control.
  • Self-Esteem and Body Image:
    • Negative self-esteem and distorted body image are common features of eating disorders. Individuals may perceive themselves as overweight or flawed, even in the presence of evidence to the contrary. This distorted self-image drives unhealthy eating behaviors.
  • Control and Coping Mechanism:
    • For some individuals, strict control over food intake becomes a way to regain a sense of control in their lives. Eating disorders can serve as coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, anxiety, or other emotional challenges.
  • Social and Cultural Influences:
    • Societal pressures and cultural ideals surrounding body image contribute to the development and perpetuation of eating disorders. Unrealistic beauty standards portrayed in media can create a toxic environment for individuals susceptible to these conditions.
  • Perfectionism:
    • Perfectionistic tendencies often coexist with eating disorders. Individuals may set unrealistic standards for themselves in various aspects of life, and their relationship with food becomes a reflection of this pursuit of perfection.
  • Genetic and Biological Factors:
    • There is evidence suggesting a genetic predisposition to eating disorders. Biological factors, such as neurotransmitter imbalances, can also play a role in the development of these conditions.
  • Comorbid Mental Health Issues:
    • Eating disorders frequently co-occur with other mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Addressing the underlying mental health concerns is crucial in comprehensive treatment.
  • Social Isolation and Withdrawal:
    • Individuals with eating disorders may withdraw from social activities or isolate themselves due to shame, guilt, or anxiety about their eating habits or body image. This social withdrawal can further exacerbate their emotional struggles.
  • Physical Health Consequences:
    • While the focus is often on mental and emotional aspects, eating disorders have severe physical consequences. These may include nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, cardiovascular issues, and damage to organs like the heart and kidneys.
  • Treatment Challenges:
    • Treating eating disorders involves addressing both the physical and psychological aspects. Therapeutic interventions, nutritional counseling, and, in severe cases, medical intervention may be necessary for comprehensive recovery.
  • Long-Term Impact:
    • Eating disorders can have long-term physical and psychological consequences. Recovery requires ongoing support, therapy, and lifestyle changes to prevent relapse and promote a healthier relationship with food and one’s body.

Understanding eating disorders beyond appearance is crucial for creating a more compassionate and effective approach to treatment. It involves addressing the underlying emotional and psychological factors, challenging societal norms, and providing holistic support for individuals on their journey to recovery.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

 

 

 

The Effects of Social Media on Body Image and Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders

Body image refers to how a person perceives, thinks, and feels about his or her own body. Negative body image develops most often in early childhood, with 50 percent of pre-adolescent girls and 30 percent of pre-adolescent boys stating they dislike their bodies. A negative body image perception can be quite dangerous, leading to many possible long- and short-term consequences. Several clinical studies, for example, show a negative body image is typically present in the development of eating disorders.

Eating disorders are complex psychological conditions that are characterized by abnormal, irregular eating habits, and an extreme concern with one’s body weight or shape. There are several different manifestations of eating disorders. The various types are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. There is no single, identifiable cause as to why someone develops an eating disorder. Research has, however, indicated certain biological, psychological, interpersonal, and social risk factors that have been noted to increase one’s susceptibility for developing an eating disorder.

Social media is a “collective term for websites and applications that focus on communication, community-based input, interaction, content-sharing, and collaboration.” Social media has become ubiquitous in the lives of Americans, as it offers a platform for communication, information sharing, and entertainment. According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of adults and 81% of teens in the U.S. use social media. While social media has its benefits, such as connecting people across the globe and facilitating the spread of knowledge, there are also potential risks associated with its use. Several studies have suggested that “social media exposure could foster body dissatisfaction and result in risky eating behaviors by broadcasting thinness ideals individuals thus long for,” as physical appearance holds a central place in social media.

Although social comparison has long been a part of life, social media has greatly increased the number of opportunities to compare and the ways in which these types of comparisons occur. Social media offers an easily accessible arena for users to engage in detrimental comparison, “based on physical appearance and thinness ideals’ internalization through daily exposure to idealized bodies.” Studies have shown that individuals who compare their physical appearance to that of others they considered to be more attractive (e.g., social media influencers, models, celebrities, peers, etc.) had a higher chance of being dissatisfied with their body image and developing an eating disorder.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Body Image And Eating Disorders: How To Overcome Negative Thoughts

Body Image And Eating Disorders

Body image refers to how an individual perceives, thinks, and feels about his or her own body. Negative body image develops most often in early childhood, with 50 percent of pre-adolescent girls and 30 percent of pre-adolescent boys stating they dislike their bodies. A negative body image perception can be quite dangerous, leading to many possible long- and short-term consequences. Research has shown, for example, that a negative body image is one of the strongest predictors for the development of an eating disorder. Eating disorders are complex psychological conditions that are characterized by abnormal, irregular eating habits, and an extreme concern with one’s body weight or shape. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) specifically defines eating disorders as “serious medical illnesses marked by severe disturbances to a person’s eating behavior.” There are different types of eating disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders.

How To Overcome Negative Thoughts

While everyone experiences negative thoughts or feeling about their body from time to time, overcoming negative body image and thoughts related to eating disorders can be a particularly challenging process. To help adopt a healthier body image, consider the following tips, provided by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA):

  • Be kind to yourself: Practicing positive self-talk, for example, encourages self-confidence, effective coping, achievement, and a general feeling of well-being. Select a few affirmations, or positive statements about your body and repeat them regularly. Avoid self-criticism, treat yourself with respect, and shift your internal dialogue to replace negative self-talk with more positive and realistic statements.
  • Strengthen social connections: Build a robust support network that includes people who understand and support your journey towards a healthier body image. Surrounding yourself with positive influences can help reinforce a healthier mindset.
  • Focus on your health rather than your appearance: Shift your focus from appearance-related goals to overall health and well-being. Engage in activities (e.g., regular exercise, nutritious eating, self-care practices, ample sleep, etc.) that promote physical and mental well-being.
  • Set realistic goals: While there are benefits to aiming high, it is advantageous to start small. Unattainable goals, like striving for perfection in terms of appearance or body shape, only set you up for failure. Instead, set realistic and attainable goals related to overall health, well-being, and self-acceptance.

It is important to bear in mind that change takes time, and shifting negative thought patterns is a process that is not always linear. However, with ample support, effective strategies, and patience, it is possible for you to cultivate a healthier and more positive relationship with your body.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Eating Disorders: Understanding The Different Types

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are psychological disorders that are loosely characterized by abnormal, irregular eating habits, and an extreme concern with one’s body weight or shape. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) list different types of eating disorders, all of which are categorized under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. Understanding the various types is important for recognizing and addressing these disorders effectively. Some of the main types of eating disorders include the following, provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Anorexia nervosa: Is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss and/ or lack of appropriate weight gain, an inability to maintain an appropriate body weight for one’s age, height, stature, intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of body image (weight and/ or shape). People struggling with anorexia will employ extreme efforts to control their weight and/ or shape, which can significantly interfere with their ability to properly function in their daily life.
  • Bulimia nervosa: Is an eating disorder characterized by a cycle of overeating (bingeing) and compensatory behaviors (purging) in attempts to undo the effects of the binge eating episodes. Purging could include self-induced vomiting, excessively over exercising, and/ or abusing diuretics.
  • Binge-eating disorder (BED): Is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of compulsively eating abnormally large quantities of food (often quickly) to the point of physical discomfort, without engaging in compensatory behaviors. Often binge episodes are followed with emotions of embarrassment, shame, guilt, and/ or distress.
  • Rumination disorder: Is an eating disorder characterized by repeatedly and unintentionally regurgitating (spitting up) undigested or partially digested food from the stomach, chewing it again, and either swallowing it or spitting it out.
  • Avoidant/ restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID): Is an eating disorder characterized by restricting food intake (e.g., eating smaller amounts) and/ or eliminating certain food groups to the point of infringing on one’s exposure and ability to absorb needed nutrients coming from food.
  • Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED): As indicated in the DSM-5, OSFED, formerly known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) is diagnosed when a person presents with feeding or eating behaviors that cause clinically significant distress and impairment, but do not meet the full criteria for any of the other disorders.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), an estimated 30 million U.S. adults will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives. The pervasive symptoms associated with any type of eating disorder can cause adverse physiological consequences, interfere with one’s ability to adequately function in daily life, and if left untreated can become life-threatening.

 

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

 

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Eating Disorders Are On The Rise In USA

Eating Disorders in USA

Eating disorders are complex psychological conditions that are broadly characterized by abnormal, irregular eating habits, and an extreme concern with one’s body weight or shape. They are specifically defined by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) as “serious medical illnesses marked by severe disturbances to a person’s eating behavior.” There are several different types and each are recognized as chronic mental health disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. The pervasive symptoms associated with any type of eating disorder can cause adverse physiological consequences and interfere with one’s ability to function optimally in daily life.

According to Proclamation 10340 of February 18, 2022, which is a presidential document by the Executive Office of the President, “nearly 1 in 10 Americans are expected to develop an eating disorder in their lifetime.” Recent data estimates up to 24 million people of all ages and genders currently suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S., and 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Experts assert that 13% of adolescents will develop an eating disorder by the age of 20. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Is Covid-19 To Blame?

The novel coronavirus, also referred to as Covid-19, traveled rampantly through the world, affecting millions of individuals in a variety of ways. 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, closures of restaurants, schools, entertainment venues and more. Although the demand for mental health services significantly increased, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide. The WHO further reported that 72% of mental health services for adolescents were halted between June and August 2020, and within this population a surge in the prevalence of eating disorders occurred that was said to be exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A study published in JAMA Pediatrics explained that across America, inpatient admissions for young adults and adolescents with eating disorders rose by a rate of approximately 0.7% per month in the two years leading up to the pandemic. In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, that growth increased to an average of 7.2% per month. The pandemic may be partially to blame for the rise in eating disorders, but more importantly it unmasked a global eating disorder public health crisis and simultaneously highlighted the urgent need to raise awareness of these disorders.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Everything You Need To Know About Eating Disorders

eating disorder

Eating disorders are defined by the American Psychiatric Association as “behavioral conditions characterized by severe and persistent disturbance in eating behaviors and associated distressing thoughts and emotions.” There is no single, identifiable cause as to why an individual develops an eating disorder. Research has, however, indicated certain biological, psychological, interpersonal, and social risk factors that have been noted to increase a person’s susceptibility for developing an eating disorder. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), an estimated 30 million U.S. adults will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

Types Of Eating Disorders

There are several different types of eating disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), all of which are categorized under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. They include:

    • Anorexia nervosa: is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss and/ or lack of appropriate weight gain in growing children, an inability to maintain an appropriate body weight for one’s age, height, stature, intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of body image (weight and/ or shape). People struggling with anorexia will employ extreme efforts to control their weight and/ or shape.
    • Bulimia nervosa: is an eating disorder characterized by a cycle of overeating (bingeing) and compensatory behaviors (purging) in attempts to undo the effects of the binge eating episodes. Purging could include self-induced vomiting, excessively over exercising, and/ or abusing diuretics.
    • Binge-eating disorder (BED): is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of compulsively eating abnormally large quantities of food (often quickly) to the point of physical discomfort, without engaging in compensatory behaviors.
  • Rumination syndrome: is a feeding and eating disorder characterized by repeatedly and unintentionally regurgitating (spitting up) undigested or partially digested food from the stomach, chewing it again and either swallowing it or spitting it out.
  • Avoidant/ restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID): is an eating disorder characterized by restricting food intake (e.g., eating smaller amounts) and/ or eliminating certain food groups to the point of infringing on one’s exposure to and ability to absorb needed nutrients derived from food.

Eating disorders can be debilitating and can adversely affect a person’s emotions, health, and interfere with one’s ability to adequately function in his or her daily life.

Signs and Symptoms

Every person is unique and will exhibit a distinct set of signs and symptoms as they relate to the presence of an eating disorder. Additionally, the type of eating disorder will influence which signs and symptoms present. The Mayo Clinic provides a list of examples of behaviors that could be indicative of an eating disorder, some of which include the following:

  • Obsessively focusing on healthy eating
  • Skipping meals
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Making excuses to avoid eating
  • Adhering to an overly restrictive diet
  • Preparing separate meals when eating in a group instead of eating what everyone else is eating
  • Excessive exercise
  • Constantly checking the mirror and/ or pointing out perceived flaws
  • Using laxatives, herbal weight loss products, and/ or dietary supplements
  • Regularly excusing oneself during meals to use the restroom
  • Eating in secret
  • Expressing disgust, shame, and/ or guilt about one’s eating habits

The continued malnutrition that occurs with an untreated eating disorder can lead to severe short and long-term consequences. Although eating disorders are life-long conditions, with proper treatment and support, a person can learn to effectively manage its symptoms.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

The Most Serious Eating Disorder

eating disorder

Eating disorders are defined by the American Psychiatric Association as “behavioral conditions characterized by severe and persistent disturbance in eating behaviors and associated distressing thoughts and emotions.” There are several different types and each are recognized as chronic psychological conditions listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. The pervasive symptoms associated with any type of eating disorder can cause adverse physiological consequences and interfere with one’s ability to adequately function in daily life. Still, anorexia, formerly known as anorexia nervosa, is recognized as the most dangerous type of eating disorder because of its high mortality rate. The South Carolina Department of Mental Health assert that twenty percent of people suffering from anorexia will die prematurely due to complications related to their eating disorder.

Anorexia

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, experts suggests it most commonly develops during adolescence. The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) point to specific risk factors that can increase one’s propensity for developing anorexia, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Dieting and starvation: habitual dieting to the point of starvation can increase a one’s potential for developing anorexia. Studies have shown that starvation impacts one’s brain functioning and one’s ability to make rational decisions. In turn, restrictive eating behaviors are perpetuated and returning to healthy/ normal eating habits become increasingly difficult.
  • Genetics: Individuals with familial history of anorexia and/ or other eating disorders put certain people at higher risk of developing anorexia.
  • Transitions: emotional stress resulting from various life transitions (e.g., new school, move, death of a loved one, etc.) can increase the risk of anorexia.
  • Peer influence: teens going through puberty and adolescence face hormonal changes, increased peer pressure, and often internalize criticisms about appearance, which can put teenagers at a higher risk for anorexia. 

Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents. Further, it is considered one of the most lethal psychiatric disorders, carrying a sixfold increased risk of death. 

Signs and Symptoms

Everyone is unique, and as such, an individual struggling with anorexia will present with a distinct set of signs and symptoms. The Mayo Clinic does, however, provide examples of common signs and symptoms associated with anorexia, some of which may include, but are not limited to, any combination of the following:

  • Thin appearance
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme weight loss
  • In adolescents: not making expected developmental weight gains
  • Dizziness and/ or fainting
  • Abnormal blood counts
  • Fatigue
  • Thinning, brittle hair
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Dry and/ or yellowish skin
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dehydration

Certain behavioral warning signs may be exhibited by an individual struggling with anorexia such as skipping meals, over-exercising, obsessively reading nutritional information, constantly weighing themselves, regularly making excuses not to eat, denial of a problem despite excessive weight loss, and more. Individuals diagnosed with anorexia engage in a cycle of self-starvation that often results in severe malnutrition including a lack of essential minerals and nutrients. When an individual with anorexia becomes severely malnourished, every organ in his or her body can suffer irreparable damage, and without proper treatment anorexia can be life-threatening. 

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Identifies As An Eating Disorder?

What Identifies As An Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are complex psychological conditions that are characterized by abnormal, irregular eating habits, and an extreme concern with one’s body weight or shape. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) specifically defines eating disorders as “serious medical illnesses marked by severe disturbances to a person’s eating behavior.” There are different types of eating disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. The three most common types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. There is no single, identifiable cause as to why someone develops an eating disorder. Research has, however, indicated certain biological, psychological, interpersonal, and social risk factors that have been noted to increase one’s susceptibility for developing an eating disorder.

Three Common Types

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by behaviors including unreasonable and unhealthy habitual food restrictions, over-exercising, abusing diet pills, abusing laxatives, and/ or fasting. An individual struggling with bulimia nervosa experiences frequent episodes of binge eating (eating excessive amounts of food in short periods of time) followed by purging (attempting to rid the body of the food by vomiting, fasting, and/ or excessively exercising). Binge eating disorder is particularly like bulimia nervosa, except an individual with binge eating disorder does not follow up his or her binge eating behaviors by purging. Instead, the individual internalizes the binge eating behaviors which ignite inner turmoil and unwanted emotions (e.g., feeling disgusted, ashamed, guilty, distressed, etc.) because of his or her excessive over-eating. Eating disorders can have debilitating effects and interfere with one’s ability to adequately function in his or her daily life. 

Signs and Symptoms

Every person is unique and will exhibit a distinct set of signs and symptoms as they relate to the presence of an eating disorder. Furthermore, the type of eating disorder an individual struggles with can influence the signs and symptoms experienced. The Mayo Clinic provides a list of examples of behaviors that could be indicative of an eating disorder, some of which include the following: 

  • Obsessively focusing on healthy eating
  • Skipping meals 
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Making excuses for not eating
  • Adhering to an overly restrictive diet 
  • Preparing separate meals when eating in a group instead of eating what everyone else is eating
  • Excessive exercise
  • Constantly checking the mirror and/ or pointing out perceived flaws
  • Using laxatives, herbal weight loss products, and/ or dietary supplements
  • Regularly excusing oneself during meals to use the restroom
  • Eating in secret
  • Expressing disgust, shame, and/ or guilt about one’s eating habits

The combination, severity, and duration of symptoms is influenced by the type of eating disorder present as well as the individual. If left untreated, continued malnutrition that occurs with an untreated eating disorder can lead to severe short and long-term consequences. 

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 to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

 

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