Disordered eating isn’t one-size-fits-all. Each person who deals with disordered eating has developed these behaviors according to different reasons; whether it be genetics, experiences, or co occurring mental health issues. According to government findings, it’s not uncommon for individuals who are living with eating disorders to also struggle with co occurring disorders that affect their mental health. In order to provide individuals with the best chance of treatment success, it’s vital that both eating disorders and co occurring issues are addressed simultaneously. But, what are some of the most common concurring issues that those with eating disorders face? And, what’s treatment like for people living with more than one mental health condition?
Substance Abuse Disorder and Eating Disorders
The most common co occurring disorder for people diagnosed with eating disorders is substance use disorder. Dealing with the effects and emotions that come with eating disorders is challenging. So, many try to find ways to occupy themselves, numb emotions, and control their feelings with mind-altering substances. However, these substances are often addictive and can lead to the development of physical and psychological dependence.
Substance use disorder is characterized by the use of addictive substances and not ceasing use even though debilitating consequences arise as a result of use. Plus, symptoms can include cravings and feeling the need to use. Some other symptoms of substance use disorder can include:
- sleep issues (too much or too little sleep)
- rapid heartbeat
- behavioral differences
- lying to, stealing from, and manipulating others
- severe weight loss
Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance for people living with eating disorders. However, this may be due to the fact that alcohol is legal, so it’s easy and inexpensive to obtain. Other substances that are commonly utilized by individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder can include laxatives, cocaine, heroin, and diuretics.
Treatment for Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders
When it comes to helping individuals living with both eating disorders and addiction, it’s imperative to identify the substance being used. This way, detoxification and withdrawal can be completed in the safest way possible. Once detox, or the removal of the substance from the body, is complete, treatment can include behavioral therapies that address behaviors brought about by both addiction and disordered eating. When both issues are addressed simultaneously, individuals have a better chance of obtaining lasting coping skills and methods to overcome both addiction and eating disorders and maintain a successful recovery.
Mood Disorders and Eating Disorders
Long with substance use disorders, other common dual diagnosis for those with eating disorders include mood disorders. Some mood disorders that can affect those living with eating disorders can include depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. For people with mood disorders, dealing with symptoms like high levels of stress, sadness, and anxiety are a daily struggle. So, they may look to utilize various coping methods, regardless of whether or not they’re hurtful to themselves.
One of the ways people with mood disorders may attempt to control the symptoms of their mental health issues is eating. Eating too little or too much is a method of coping with symptoms of eating disorders and an attempt to gain self-control. However, these behaviors can lead to disordered eating patterns that eventually develop into eating disorders.
Symptoms of Eating Disorders and Mood Disorders Occurring Simultaneously
Anxiety disorders: Those living with anxiety disorders may experience symptoms including shortness of breath, feelings of being overwhelmed, racing heartbeat, dread, and sweating.
Depression disorders: Depression is more than sadness; it’s experiencing the symptoms of sadness consistently for two weeks or more. Symptoms can include feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, sadness, grief, guilt, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder): Individuals diagnosed with OCD experience symptoms of both obsessions and compulsive actions to relieve anxiety over obsessions.
Treatment for Co Occurring Disorders Along With Eating Disorders
Unfortunately, more often than not, people living with eating disorders and other mental health issues don’t get the combined help they need. Rather, they get help for only eating disorders. This is ineffective as mental health issues that co occur often play a part in each other. For example, if a person dealing with both disordered eating and anxiety only gets help for her eating disorder, anxiety later experienced can be a trigger to revert back to disordered eating behaviors.
Willow Place for Women believes in treating co occurring disorders along with eating disorders. Find out more about our outpatient services right on our website. Or, give us a call for a confidential consultation at 1-888-651-4212.